“I‘m up still.” she corrected, jogging in place, swaying side to side, “I‘ve been reading all night. Fascinating stuff, this string theory.” Janna mused, “I can see where some of my technologies can straight away be an improvement. Others…” she huffed, “are so beyond me. In any case, I had far too much to study. I just couldn’t sleep.” Al reached under his coat, pulling his suspenders, “I miss those days.” he replied jovially. Janna stopped jogging long enough to help Al straighten his suspenders and adjust the lapel of his camel hair overcoat. “Well, you are certainly well put together.” she said. “Old habits die hard.“ he explained, ”I blame the Navy. “
Janna nodded, returning to her sway. She had taken Al’s hand while straightening his coat, and was now twirling under it and dancing along. “What are you listening to?” Al asked amused. “KC & the Sunshine Band” Janna replied singsong. Al leaned in, recognizing ‘I’m Your Boogie Man’ and chuckling to himself. “That’s a little old for you, isn’t it?” he teased. Janna began taking the steps in time with the music, “It’s a classic, and a classic never dies. Besides, how can anyone not love disco?” Al nodded agreeably.
“I hear around the tech water cooler that real player is about to put out one of these,” Janna said, tapping her Discman, “one that doesn’t even need a disc. It will have a little hard drive and you‘ll keep your music on that.” She scoffed, “People love a new gadget. It sounds interesting in theory, but I can put 65 songs on a disc. Who would need a thousand songs in their pocket?” Al thought for a moment, deciding this would not be the best time for a debate. “I suppose no one needs it.” he replied, “but the best things in life aren’t things we need, either. Especially for twenty-somethings who like disco.”
“Maybe that’s my interest in time travel,” she began, turning from him, “good music. ” Al said nothing to this, letting Janna continue on her jog. As she ascended the stairs and headed down the corridor, Al remained fixed on her body, watching her ass as she rounded the corner and left her sight. He then sighed, shook his head, and started toward the Imagining Chamber. He glanced back, but Janna was gone, having swiped her access card and began taking laps around the large corridors of level one.
Janna breezed past the people just arriving for the morning, as she did in her own office, with single-minded determination. She liked being able to put on her headphones and drown out the world as she jogged, taking apart designs in her mind and thinking up new ways to approach a problem. She continued along the lengthy corridor, turning into the cafeteria, which was already bustling with activity. Several small tables were crowded with young scientists, and there were lines moving quickly as most people grabbed their items and continued to work.
The two physicists from the part were among the scientists at the table, looking over mathematical figures. “Look at that.” the second physicist bemoaned as they all saw Janna come jogging into the cafeteria. She backed away from the crowd, jogging in one place with a sort of a goofy dance in her step. “Please God, let that be a daily occurrence.” the first mumbled. All the scientist nodded. “I bet -” the first chuckled, “I bet there’s a mathematical formulas for that bounce.” The scientists looked down at him in his seat. “There’s a math formula for everything.” they all replied.
Janna continued over toward them as they turned back their work. Her music had stopped, but she was certain that comments accompanied those stares, and she was curious as to what they were. As she Jogged over, the second and more gregarious scientist stood leaning over formula work he scrawled into a spiral notebook. Without looking up, he replied, “Damn shame, a woman that pretty and I cant even show her my slide rule.” When no one laughed, he looked up to find Janna standing among them.
Janna looked about, pulling her earbuds away. “You don’t mean me?” she asked innocently, “Am I pretty? Really?” Janna made a queer face, stepping into to adjust her glasses and look at the figures on the pad as the embarrassed physicist looked at his peers hatefully. Janna hummed softly, pulling the pencil that was holding her hair and leaning in. “I think this might be wrong.” she said, looking up. The physicist looked down as she waited for his permission before making a small notation on his notes. “You weren’t taking all three dimensions into account.” she instructed, “Happens all the time.”
She stood upright, but no one said anything. As she looked about the physicist examined his math and then cautiously offered his hand, “Dr. Philip Dykman.” he said simply. As Janna shook it, the group admitted they knew who she was through inter-office gossip. “Well, you flatter me, but I’m just the engineer.” she laughed, “You guys think it up. I‘m just here to build it.” Janna looked toward the now dwindling coffee line. “Well, I’ll leave you to it.” she said, replacing her earbuds.
“As for my attractiveness,” she said to no one in particular, “Honestly boys, you should have better things to talk about.” Janna collected her pencil, twisting her hair and sticking the pencil firmly back into place. “You know, like your figures.” Janna giggled, continuing on her cool down and stopping for coffee and the boys reviewed her notes embarrassed. “You’re always talking” the first physicist chided Dykman, who just looked harshly at him. The other scientists just laughed, “Damn man, where‘s your slide rule?”
Janna stepped out of the temporary quarters freshly showered. Her jeans and t-shirt marked her oddly dressed for the environment, but seemingly not as odd as when compared to what people expected her to wear. She made her way, toolbox in hand, to the Control Room. “Good Morning.” she said as Sammy Jo stood scribbling onto a clipboard. “Anything eventful last evening?” Sammy Jo stifled a yawn, shaking her head. “Gooshie should be along any minute.” she noted. Janna nodded, opening her toolbox and retrieving her small notebook. She then stepped up to the Control Panel and placed her hand onto the interface.
“Good morning Ziggy.” Janna said brightly. “I was wondering when you were going to get around to me Doctor.” Ziggy said curtly, “Enjoy your jog this morning? I know several scientists who enjoyed the flirting.” Janna calmly waited for the hybrid computer to finish. “I wasn’t flirting.” she responded, not looking up from her notes. “They were.” Ziggy informed. Janna looked up, not having considered that.
Ziggy took that silence as her first victory of the day.
“So Ziggy, I looked over your technical manual last night…” Janna began, reviewing her notes. Ziggy sighed slowly, “I just love a good romance on a late night.” Ziggy joked dryly. Janna shook her head, dropping he knees and looking at the side access panel. “Well, you are state-of-the-art.” Janna started, “No denying that, but Sam couldn’t customize all of your components, and the ones he didn’t are pretty due for an upgrade.” Janna blew her bangs from her hair, looking up as she spoke. “The main issue here is data retrieval and storage.”
“So you want to give me a facelift.” Ziggy replied, “I suppose I should say thank you.” Janna leaned back on her hands, listening to the computers sarcasm. “Girl to girl,” she replied, “I‘m not talking about a tune up. Ziggy, you were built like a Volvo. I want to make you a Lamborghini.” Janna’s eyes mischievously cut to Sammy Jo as Ziggy moaned. Ziggy’s enthusiasm was palpable. Janna considered this her first victory of the day. “So what do you say?” she asked with as much swagger as she had, “Ready for me to get inside you?”
Gooshie walked in, realizing immediately he had interrupted something taking place between the women in the Control Room. “Isn’t it always the way?” Ziggy complained, “You get in the mood and company shows up.” Sammy Jo laughed, setting her clipboard and patting the bewildered Gooshie on the back as she filed out. He looked to Janna, who gave a dismissive wave and refocused on the panel. Gooshie walked over, reviewing her notes as he settled in. “You‘re going to want to set up a partition before we change anything.” he advised.
Janna nodded, “Oh, absolutely.” she replied, looking up, “We wouldn’t want our makeover to upset anything or hurt Al.” Janna lifted the panel, looking about, “Or heaven forbid Dr. Beckett.” As Janna looked about for a section wherein she could set up and test new microchips when Gooshie touched her shoulder, stopping her. “Ziggy, could you set up a protective partition so Dr. Irons can test the upgrades?” Ziggy scoffed, “I always use protection.” Gooshie looked puzzled and Janna just laughed. As Janna brushed her bangs and sat laughing to herself, Ziggy confidently replied, “I‘m finished.” Janna looked in the panel and discovered the small lighted section Ziggy prepared. “Let‘s get started.” Janna mumbled.
Several hours later, Janna emerged with dust in her hair. “Next test.” she announced, looking as Gooshie began plugging in data. He watched amazed as the readout returned almost immediately. “This is incredible.” Gooshie exclaimed, “It‘s finished.” A smile washed over Janna and she looked up at Ziggy. “Well, what do you think?” Ziggy hummed softly, “I think I‘m more impressive than a Lamborghini.” Janna laughed, “Indeed. I wholeheartedly agree.”
“Now, Gooshie.” Janna said, turning her focus to the head programmer, “I‘m about to refine the neuron scanners. If I‘m right, Ziggy is going to get a lot closer to the good Doctor, which may make retrieval more possible.” Gooshie nodded, and Janna set to work replacing the chips. As she was finishing, she replaced the access panel and Ziggy began lighting up. Janna backed away and she got to her feet in time to watch Ziggy light up and the lights in the room dim.
Al emerged from the Imaging Chamber and approached the Control Room. Janna looked to Gooshie, who was typing along as though nothing was happening. “What’s going on?” Janna asked in the low light. Gooshie looked up surprised, “Oh that?” he said nonplussed, “Sam‘s leaping.” The room returned to normal and Al walked over, brushing the dust from Janna’s hair as he returned the handlink to its base on Ziggy’s main panel.
“Is he done?” Janna asked, looking up. Al continued brushing the dust from her shoulders, “It usually takes a few days for Sam to land someplace.” he explained, “The hard part is over. Now we wait for a lock.” Janna turned back to Gooshie, “Well, if that‘s the case, should we push through and test the improved Neutron readers?” Gooshie gave a nod, initiating the test as Janna began noting the days events. Al stretched and stepped over to read the notes as an alarm sounded and havoc was wreaked along the panel.
Al and Gooshie immediately went to the panel. They were quickly met with both Sammy Jo and Donna, who were in full crisis mode. “What happened?” Donna asked. “Nothing. We were running a simply test on the new neuron readers and suddenly everything went crazy.” Janna looked about in a panic, “They were simple processing chips, nothing like this should even be possible.” All looked at the readout, “What‘s going on Ziggy?” he called out.
“Doctor Beckett is not on the timeline.” Ziggy stated flatly. Everyone stopped, looking up toward the voice. “What?” Donna called out. “Doctor Beckett has vanished from the predestinate coordinates of the timeline.” Ziggy said a second time. Sammy Jo blinked several times, reading the data on the panel, “He hasn’t vanished. He’s here, we just need to do a finer analysis.” Sammy Jo, Donna, and Gooshie began quickly typing along the panel in unison.
Al looked at Janna, who looked lost and confused. “There‘s nothing in what I‘ve changed that should‘ve caused this.” she muttered. She turned to her notes as Ziggy’s voice rang to each inquiring, “Negative.” Janna began pacing, unsure of what to do. Gooshie looked out at the group, “I’m sure it’s a coincidence. I mean, he’s not gone. He’s just a little… lost.” Everyone looked at him stunned, and Al sternly replied, “Lost? In time??”