Monday, September 5, 2011

Time out of Place - Chapter 4

Chapter 4

There was a knock on the door and Sarah woke up. She looked around and realized that she was off the main firing range in an anteroom in Loren's office. The lights were on in the main office and she looked at the holster with one of the larger pistols she had fired in it on the chair within arm's reach and she shifted off the sofa and slung the pistol around and snapped the web belt harness for it shut before putting a light jacket in the dark blue of Wayne Tech on over it.

"Come in, I'm awake," she said.

Loren stepped in and smiled.

"Mr. Wayne here to see you with a friend of his," she opened the door slowly to Bruce Wayne in a three piece business suit and an older black man in a dark coat with a black shirt with white tab on it behind him.

"Hello, Sarah, I knew you would need a catnap," Bruce said, "and I'm glad you could rest. I brought Father Jordan with me, and I hope you can join us to listen to some of the people we have in-house about what we know so far?"

Sarah blinked, smiled and slowly stood up, still aching a bit after time with Martin and a slight residue of burnt powder from the range time with Loren. She stepped up and extended her hand to Father Jordan.

"Thank you, Mr. Wayne and its good to meet you, Father Jordan."

"My pleasure, Sarah. Bruce doesn't get me unless its over his head and this sounds to be one of those times. I'm glad to help."

"Do you need anything before you go?" Loren asked Sarah.

"No, I don't think so. I'll take a water bottle with me," Sarah said as Loren nodded.

"Good, you still need that even after the snack here."


"Yes, Mr. Wayne?"

"Would you contact Lucius? I think he needs some help on a project."

"Will do, Mr. Wayne."

"Good! Now Father Jordan, Sarah, if you would follow me, we have some people to meet. Sarah, I've asked some in-house experts to help on this matter..." he said leaving Loren behind who was on the phone, and the door slowly shut to her office,"... and I want to hear them individually before we get them all together with Father Casull and Kyle."

Sarah nodded.

"More than glad to, Mr. Wayne. But isn't this a lot of trouble to go through for a new employee?"

They arrived at an elevator, and waited, with Bruce turning to Sarah.

"Sarah, your safety here is my prime responsibility as an employer. At any time you feel you don't need or want my help, you can say so and I will stop helping you, officially, at least. I respect your judgment as an adult. And I hope you respect my responsibilities to you by being my employee."

This was something unusual in Sarah's experience. She had been through many low paying jobs... waitress, bank clerk, stock girl at a supermarket, daytime bartender and a hotel receptionist... nothing had prepared her for this. No employer, no business owner, had ever said anything like that to her and usually it was just the opposite. She was stunned.

"You would do this for a janitor here, wouldn't you?" she asked softly.

He smiled, softly with just a bit of shadow cast over his eyes from the overhead lights.

"He has, Sarah," said Father Jordan,"believe me when I say that Bruce Wayne means that."

The elevator door opened and Bruce Wayne stepped in followed by Father Jordan and Sarah Connor. Bruce pressed a button, the doors closed and the elevator went up into Wayne Tower.

"What we have are some in-house specialists that have been asked to go over what we have so far and talk about it. Hopefully that will get us a bit better grounded and understand just what it is that is going on. This isn't something that I can easily explain, and when that happens I go to people I trust, Sarah. We will be having Richard Bennington who has military systems contacts and knowledge, Donald Carstairs and Anne Dickerson of our simulations and advanced weapons group..."

"Any relation to Martin Carstairs?" Sarah asked.

Bruce smiled and nodded, "His younger brother. He signed up with us coming out of college and convinced his brother to join us after leaving GCPD to help us on our forensics and crime analysis work. They are both very good at what they do."

Sarah nodded and turned to the door as it opened.

"After that we will have Ken Chapman, who is the head of our Applied Sciences organization. Lucius phoned to say that he was probably the best on the automated controls systems group as they don't have a department chief yet," Bruce said explaining as he walked out of the elevator and down the hallway. He checked room numbers and stopped before one of them and knocked.

"Come in," came the voice from behind it. Bruce opened the door to see Lucius Fox and a younger man, with dark brown hair, short and a bit stout, wearing dark trousers and a light brown suit coat and white shirt with the top two buttons undone, with metal rimmed glasses on, both of them standing up as Bruce was followed by Sarah and then Father Jordan.

"Sorry to keep you two waiting," Bruce said.

"That's all right Bruce. We were discussing some of the program budget schedules for next year and areas we might expand into."

Nodding, Bruce held out his hand to Richard Bennington.

"Richard it is good to see you again, sorry we are ruining your day," Bruce said shaking his hand then letting it go.

"That's what you pay me for, Mr. Wayne, and it is good to see you again, too."

"Richard this is Sarah Connor, Sarah, Richard Bennington..." he extended his hand across the table.

"It's good to meet you, Sarah, and I'm sorry about the loss of your friend, Ginger."

Sarah shook his hand, "Thank you, Richard. It is totally unexpected."

"And Richard you know Father Jordan, I believe, from our social this spring?"

Richard let go of Sarah's hand and shook Father Jordan's.

"I do, Mr. Wayne and it is good to see you, Father."

"Thank you, Richard, and its good to see you, too," Father Jordan then turned to Lucius, "and of course it is always good to see you, Lucius."

"Thank you, Leroy, are you keeping the kids straight?"

Father Jordan laughed as he took a seat next to Sarah, tucking the pillow in behind his back.

"Getting harder all the time, but they know not to pull anything on me... know it every which way, Lucius."

Bruce sat down and looked at Richard.

"I don't want to get into detail, just get your impression and first thoughts, Richard. You are the military systems expert and have a good finger on the pulse of DARPA. What do you make of it?"

Richard Bennington picked up the folder and shook his head.

"Mr. Wayne, there is nothing like what is described on any working plan, anywhere. The only 'Skynet' is a British communication's system, and it is in no way something that could be related to robotics or advanced military systems, beyond comms."

Bruce shook his head and took up one of the pictures of the killer from the Las Vegas incident.

"No miniature nuclear cell? No cybernetic self-programming systems? No advanced actuated skeletons with some sort of flesh like exterior?"

"Nothing like that at all, Mr. Wayne, it sounds like science fiction. And while there are always a couple of theoretical reviews on things that are, ah, 'out there' like time travel, we are nowhere even close to having a theory on if it can even be done. That all comes in at a big zero, even at 30 years out, Mr. Wayne, as we would need the theoretical structure now to create that even in that sort of time-frame. So I can't see anything like this, on any scale, in less time than that, and even at 30 years it would mostly be in the test stages if we could even make any of it."

Bruce smiled.

"I kind of thought that was the case. Lucius, any more thoughts beyond what we talked about earlier?"

Lucius grunted and shook his head.

"We have a bit more on the murders, but this trail goes dry after Las Vegas. Like he's evaporated into the highland desert."

Bruce furrowed his brow.

"Kyle described it as an 'infiltration unit'. That would fit that profile, wouldn't it? Infiltrating and using its apparent normalcy as a disguise?"

"Well, if that is what its doing, it is good at it. No more killings, no shop break-ins, nothing."

"That is pretty empty highway, I would think they would have at least spotted the car it stole."

Richard spoke up.

"It is also rugged terrain, Mr. Wayne, there are thousands of places to put a car down a gully, into a stand of trees or even into a deserted barn or old gas station."

Bruce sat back and was obviously in thought.

"Richard, lets say that something like this was possible and it did have a capability to learn enough to pass itself off as human. Just on pure speculation, what would you program into something like that?"

Pressing his lips together and raising an eyebrow, Richard Bennington was caught a bit off-guard.

"If something like that really could be designed? I mean if it had limited capabilities, at best, in understanding culture, it would recognize that the car it had was 'hot' and do its best to switch vehicles. And switch clothing away from what is known. It couldn't really disguise its size, but it could divert attention from what it looked like. It doesn't take much to do that, really: change clothes, adopt a few mannerisms and just don't stand out. Most of not being found is making sure you don't look like you are someone anyone wants to find. If it is on the road then some very slight car theft after ditching the car it had would do it, along with taking some clothes from a store via shoplifting, I think. That isn't really military work... but I see what you are getting at, Mr. Wayne."

Bruce nodded and looked at Sarah then Father Jordan.

"Sarah? Anything you would like to ask?"

She had been concentrating hard on what the two men were saying and blinked a few times.

"I... if it really is something like that, from the future, what do you think would destroy it?"

Richard nodded and sat back, picking up the picture where it looked directly at the camera, raising the gun.

"That is a tough one, Sarah. Any metal skeleton means that it has a melting point for that metal, probably a high one. All metals have a tensile strength, which is above what humans can deal with save by application of more force than we can normally do with muscles. Certain acids or base solutions at high concentration might get through it, but I couldn't tell you what without knowing its metallic composition. A strong electromagnetic pulse might disrupt it, but probably only temporarily. Hard radiation might damage some of its circuits, but that would take time. Then there is the ever popular 'blowing it to bits' idea, so long as the bits are small enough to actually be unconnected. If this isn't some weird con job or put on, then a flesh covered metallic structure would lull you into thinking you had 'killed it' when, in fact, you haven't done any damage to it at all."

Bruce Wayne's face was blank, and some of the gauntness of his face cast shadows from the overhead light over his eyes and cheeks.

"It wouldn't be easy to get rid of, would it Richard?"

Richard Benningtion shook his head 'no'.

"I really hope this is some psychotic, complex put-on, Mr. Wayne. If it isn't then about the only thing I might want to go after one of these in would be an Abrams Tank with Silver Bullets and high explosives, then run the pieces over on concrete. And we don't appear to have one of those in the inventory around here."

Lucius Fox leaned forward, looking at Bruce, who nodded slightly.

"Thank you, Richard. Sarah, Father Jordan? Any more questions for Richard?"

They both indicated 'no', and Bruce Wayne stood up.

"Thank you, Richard. See you at the meeting when Alfred gets here with Kyle and Father Jordan."

"Yes, Mr. Wayne, glad to be there."

"Lucius, two rooms down?"

"You'll find Donald and Anne there. I decided they worked better as a team, so left them that way. Look for the occupied rooms this level and next up, latest arrivals closest to the meeting room."

Bruce nodded.

"Good, thank you both," Bruce turned and Sarah reached over to shake Richard's hand.

"Thank you, really, I hope its a hoax, too."

"I really do, too, Sarah. See you at the meeting," Richard said shaking her hand as he stood up.

Bruce Wayne led Sarah and Father Jordan from the room and down the hall.

"Sorry there's so little time between them, but I want these done before Alfred gets back," Bruce said stopping by the second door they came to and knocking on it.

"Come in," the voice sounding of a woman, perhaps an alto in pitch. Bruce opened the door to see a man in his early 30's, dressed in a dark two piece suit with white shirt and blue tie, with dark hair, an oval face and dark mustache, and a woman in her late 30's, blond and would be called 'heavy set' if not for her short sleeved shirt and jeans showing a toned musculature. Both were standing beside a round table that had the standard secure folder with the pictures and transcript for Sarah Connor's case, but there were only a couple of sheets of paper out of that and many other sheets with much written on them in the way of arrows, formulas and geometric shapes.

Bruce walked in followed by Sarah and Father Jordan, who closed the door behind him.

"Hello Anne, Don," Bruce said shaking their hands, "this is Sarah Connor and Father Jordan who I brought on to help with assessing personalities."

There were handshakes all around, and greetings.

Bruce Wayne looked at the table top and was trying to puzzle out just what it was the two were doing.

"You have both been busy, could you tell me what you've come up with so far?" Bruce asked.

Anne looked at Don, who looked at her and then Bruce.

"Well, Mr. Wayne, if this had been a joke, I think you would have let on by now. Anne and I talked about it for awhile and decided to concentrate on the time-travel part of it, after doing an initial look at what the described technology implies."

Everyone started to pull up seats as Don talked.

"What does the technology imply?" Bruce asked.

"It is at least 30 to 40 years off. Self-programming machines are a fine theory, but no one has a good idea of how to actually program one, Mr. Wayne. Quite truthfully self-programming mechanisms aren't on the table, no matter what you see on television or the movies."

Bruce turned to Anne.

"Do you agree?"

Anne nodded.

"I do, Mr. Wayne. I may disagree with Don on how fast a ramp-up there will be once the right techniques are found, but getting to that is still decades away at this rate. It isn't impossible to think that a break-through of some sort is just around the corner, but artificial intelligence has been at that point for so long, its almost a joke. The actual mechanical structure isn't really our specialty, with regards to a cybernetic being described by 'Kyle', but it seems reasonable that the exterior covering would serve as a thermal cooling system for an internal power source. The skeleton, alone, would do that, but once you insulate it you get heat build-up, so a flesh covering of any sort must have some means to move heat outwards. That is just physics, nothing fancy."

Father Jordan had been peering at the table top and pulled his chair up to look a bit closer.

"This is the 'fancy stuff', I take it?" he asked.

Don smiled.

"Yes, it is the time travel part that got us going. Even though we don't have anything like it, even in theory, we have been hashing over the main theories about it, if it were possible."

"There is more than one theory?" asked Sarah.

Anne nodded and smiled.

"Get three theoretical physicists or cosmologists into any one room and you can predictably get at least seven theories of time travel out of them. No matter how much the science fiction writers put up ideas, the scientific community has been a few steps ahead... or behind, depending on how you look at it."

"Really?" asked Father Jordan, "I thought that Einstein had settled a lot of that with space-time."

Don looked to Father Jordan and pursed his lips and hesitated a moment before speaking.

"That's the problem, he didn't. He doesn't describe what time actually is or how it functions, just that it is a vector operative in the space-time manifold. Even such a basic question of 'is time a fundamental force or is it a dimension?' hasn't really been answered. Even for Einstein there were the problems of indeterminacy via Quantum Theory, and just after his death came Feynman diagrams that describe anti-matter as simple matter with a reversed time vector. That is what we have been going over on the table."

Father Jordan sat back, and looked at Don and then Anne.

"What have you come up with?"

Don looked to Anne who inhaled slightly.

"Father Jordan there are some basic things we know about the universe that are, apparently, at odds with the conventional idea of time travel in the way of 'time being a stream'. That, actually, doesn't work out well at all."

"It doesn't?" Father Jordan asked.

"No, in fact there are two main stumbling blocks for it, one from current ideas of how particles form and the other from basic Quantum Theory. The most basic is the particle physics side: there are some particles that will not flip their polarity if you reverse time, and so 'rewinding the film' is impossible. We haven't found these particles, but they are not only perfectly acceptable within the current cosmological and atomic theories, but are almost required by a few of them. One of those are magnetic monopoles, which would be a separate north and south magnet without any pairing. A charged particle approaching one that has, say, a right deflection going forward in time would have a right deflection, not left, going back in time."

"That is if you don't use Feynman diagrams, but even those show problems with particle behavior with monopoles," said Don, "That, on its own, is a stopper, in theory, to time travel as a stream or continuous vector."

"What you're saying," Bruce started, "is that particles going one way forward in time would not retrace their path going backwards?"

"Exactly, Mr. Wayne," said Anne, "even though we haven't found monopoles, there are serious problems to that view of the universe. A continuous universe has a lot of problems being rolled backwards."

"That doesn't end ideas on time travel, though, does it?" asked Father Jordan.

"Have you taken any physics, Father?"

"Oh, some introductory courses at the Seminary and audited a few more, yes. It is interesting to keep up with those seeing God as the Great Engineer."

Anne smiled, "The Grand Architect, too, I can see that. To answer the question, even discounting the continuous stream idea there is the discontinuous quantum view, and that is even stranger, really. From that you do get time not as a film, but a series of following frames each with discrete actions and all having allowances connecting them up. That is really 'out there', however, the more traditional objection brought up is the Observer Effect."

"Ah, yes, Schroedinger's Cat," said Father Jordan.

"Indeterminacy depending upon what the observer knows and what the probabilities are for an expected outcome, yes," said Anne.

"How does that enter into it with time travel?" asked Father Jordan.

Bruce Wayne was sitting back, smiling, obviously enjoying the back and forth going on.

"Think of it this way," started Don,"at the particle level you can't know just where a particle is and its speed and direction at any given time. If you observe speed you can't get exact position, observe position direction and you can't get its speed or direction. Now if you are a time traveler going to the past, you know the summation of all of that from before you traveled in time, so no matter where you wind up, the observer effect then precludes that place you are going to from having the preconditions to send that person that is exactly you into the past. Things can be really close, of course, and general trends in history continue, but then you wind up with the problem of having that technology arise on that series of events and that you who is different than the original going back in time in this time sequence. That adds up until there is finally a jump where you end up in a set of preconditions so different that the basics to get the technology or have a version of you in them showing up. That does not violate causality because time does not repeat that way with this view of time."

"What is causality?" asked Sarah.

"Basic cause and effect," said Anne,"where cause precedes effect. In the time as a stream concept causality rules, so going into the past and killing your own grandfather or grandmother causes a paradox where the conditions to get you into the past can't be met because you don't exist to carry them out. The quantum view postulates that the time frame you left will not exist the moment you leave it, although to other observers there it will carry on, maybe."

"You die?" asked Father Jordan.

Anne and Don looked at each other.

"Not die, no, but you have destroyed any chance to get to that time sequence you left from where you are at, and they can no longer get to you as the new time sequence doesn't lead to that time frame as it was," said Don.

Anne nodded.

"The new time sequence can violate the causality that brought you to it, because there is no predetermined end-state. All of your actions, even just existing, change everything around you. That is chaos theory and the butterfly's wings taking effect."

"That is where you can't predict how molecules will move, exactly, from the flapping of a butterfly's wings which then cascades slowly away from each flap," said Don, "here the initial effect is far larger and so the consequences will be profoundly disturbing as the time traveler just exists in the new time sequence. Because each effect is guided by indeterminacy, the observer effect and chaotic results, the one thing you won't get is an exact replay of time if you travel back into time."

Bruce Wayne sat forward.

"Do you think that Kyle would know that?" he asked.

"More than likely, Mr. Wayne," said Don, "yet they may have advanced theory that somehow goes around our current understanding of physics. But so much of what the universe is, is bound up in that, I don't see how you can get around it."

"That is why its such an interesting subject," Anne said, "for all that it is speculation you really do have to challenge your assumptions of what you know. In the case of Kyle you would have to ask if the general history leading up to that future time is iron-clad due to past events or if it is wholly contingent and amenable to change. Sending people back to something they can't change doesn't make sense, so they must believe that they can change history. But I don't know if they imagine that just sending someone back, or anything back, in time will, itself, even if it doesn't do much, change history all on its own: it is a reconfiguration of a part of reality and all the rest of physics must come into play. Time is not a sole determinant and the universe will adjust to remove certainty from an observer."

"Exactly," said Don,"that would lead to variance recursion, in which each cycle back is slightly different and when it comes to the point in time to send someone back they are ignorant that not only has their time sequence changed from an original one, but that they will change how the universe responds once they go back. If you add in enough time between origination in the future to the past, so that there is no record of previous time travel events and how they came about, then you get a situation that drifts from time travel possible time sequences to ones without them. You couldn't drift towards a more possible one as they would tend to cancel out later time travel time sequences as they increase certainty, and that isn't allowed. So you either get that, with time travel getting discovered earlier and earlier until there is some limit in technology basis for its enactment, or you lead to a time sequence in which time travel is negated by other events and not discovered. Each loop back changes the next loop forward and away from the baseline you started with. Either way you go you will finally end up with a time sequence where time travel remains theoretical, but not enacted."

"You're saying, then," said Father Jordan,"that the very act of traveling through time begins a sequence where time travel isn't created?"

"That is what Don and I have been talking about for a half-hour or so, Father. I think its possible for time sequences to get a glitch or cycle, but agree with Don that there will come a non-repetitive cycle to one that is non-time travel ending. That is the only way to remove certainty."

"And that would be a time that is widely different than what the traveler would expect, right?" asked Bruce.

Don looked at Anne who looked back at him, then both turned to Mr. Wayne and said "Yes".

"Just so long as we don't take up the things that started down the path to the one that enabled time travel?" asked Father Jordan.

"That's it, Father. We do get to make our own future, but we have to live with a high degree of chaos and randomness on the road to it," said Don.

"So Kyle in coming back to change the past," said Sarah,"finally stops his future from coming about?"

"I think so, even just his presence starts that," said Anne,"but it is all highly theoretical and a lot of hand waving going on, but for those things we know to be true, that we can demonstrate physically and measure, that's correct. And you don't even get the past you think you are going to as quantum theory removes that certainty."

"He's lost," said Sarah.

"No, Sarah, if that future he came from is that awful, with killer machines going after humanity, he is far from lost. He has found a solution," said Father Jordan, "just not the one he wanted to get."

Standing up Bruce looked at Anne and Don.

"That has been... illuminating, thank you, both. Alfred should be here in a bit and we have at least two more pre-meetings to go to. Maybe three. Feel free to talk with Lucius or Richard about what you think and thank you both for being here to put in extra hours."

"Mr. Wayne I wouldn't miss this for the world," said Don.

Sarah and Father Jordan were standing up, and said quick good-byes to the two researchers, and then Bruce led them down the hall until they got to a meeting room and walked in. There was an older man, perhaps in his late 50's, dark brown hair, balding, with black frame glasses, wearing a two piece brown suit, dark red shirt and yellow tie. Like the others he had the content of the folder out for examination. He stood up as the door opened.

"Sorry to barge in, Ken, but I'm running a bit late and still have two more people to see about this."

The shorter man nodded and smiled.

"Perfectly understandable, Mr. Wayne," he said shaking hands, then looked to Sarah, "and you must be Sarah, my condolences to you about your friend, Ginger," he said shaking her hand.

Sarah smiled, wanly, "Thank you, it is still... a shock..."

"We will do what we can for you, Sarah, and that is a lot. And Father Jordan, its good to see you again, sorry I missed you at the last get-together, but I was out of country at the time," he said shaking the Priest's hand.

"Not to worry, Ken, I do understand."

Sitting down, Bruce said, "The five minute overhead, if you can, Ken. What do you make of it?"

Ken Chapman sat down and picked up one of the pages.

"The police report is most descriptive, Mr. Wayne. And what background there is, well, its fantastic, of course, but the physical side of it is pretty straightforward. We couldn't build anything like this 'infiltration unit' for a few decades, but the actual skeleton and actuator technology, with a bit of reinforcement and miniaturization, is something we could do in a decade or three."

"What about the energy source?" Bruce asked.

"A bit more difficult, Mr. Wayne. Accounting for the extra mass, having to do things through actuators and motors, even high efficiency linear drives, you wind up with something that would weigh about 500 lbs and need something like 1.2 kWh to function, not taking processor and computational needs into account. A high level athlete, say a long distance competition bicyclist, would burn about half that, so I'm being generous and putting in leeway for all of the differences between a highly distributed energy use system, like your body, and one that is more mechanical. To power that with a nuclear source might see something like a miniature closed cycle turbine system. If we could get the liquid pressures high enough and ensure good bearings, and have well machined parts, plus make sure that the radioactivity doesn't degrade the entire system, then we might be able to make something like that which would be, oh, the general size of your forearm. No one has ever solved all those problems, however."

Bruce Wayne nodded.

"How would that effect the external flesh component?"

Ken sat back and picked up one of the pictures of it talking with the salesman.

"Well it would be warmer than a normal human, unless it had some sort of very high efficiency radiation system, probably a cycled fluid going around the power generator and out to to the internal skeleton, then through its exterior parts and then the skin. You would have extreme problems getting that down to human standard temperatures, however, due to the amount of energy necessary to run the entire mechanism. To bring that all down to human normal for temperatures requires large leaps in machining and actuator technology, friction reduction, and a longer life set of bearings. That is a long way from the present day, as each of those is an incremental increase in technology: we know what its theoretical limits are, and engineering is aimed at getting things closer to those limits. Especially problematical are the hands, which appear to be fully functional. Getting fine enough actuators, or drive systems for those, plus control systems... Mr. Wayne we can do that with much bulkier equipment now, but in human form, even bulky like this? Twenty or thirty years, barring some leap in materials science, which is possible as it would be something we haven't thought of yet."

"So if it existed as an outgrowth of current technology, it would require a number of engineering advances, but no real theoretical ones?" Bruce asked.

"Only the computational system. We have nothing that would be that capable and adaptable on any drawing boards or even in theory. That will take brand new technical skill that isn't anywhere near the modern day."

Bruce nodded and looked at Sarah and Father Jordan.

"Anything either of you would like to ask?"

"No, I don't think so," said Sarah.

"Sorry, Bruce, nothing from me, either," said Father Jordan.

Bruce Wayne got up,"Thank you, Ken. See you at the meeting in a bit, we still have a couple of briefings to go."

"My pleasure, Mr. Wayne. This is interesting, even if its a wild goose chase."

"Yes it is, see you," he said walking to the door and opening it, waiting for Sarah and the Priest. He led them to an elevator and waited for it and a minute or so later they got in and he pushed for the next floor up. The door opened on a hallway very similar to the one they had left and he led the two of them to the right and to a door on the right, and knocked.

"Come in." came the male voice.

Bruce opened the door and they saw Martin Carstairs with the folder documents spread out in front of him.

"Mr. Wayne, Sarah and Father Jordan!" he said walking over to them, "Come on in, and Father I will be at service this weekend, really! Or next weekend at the latest."

Father Jordan smiled, "Don't worry, Martin, I do miss you and your family, and I do understand family matters. We do hold more than one weekend service, you know?"

"I know, Father. Just the family, kids, even when they are teens there is a lot to do. At least I can usually round every one up for a morning service."

"Perfectly all right, Martin."

Bruce seated himself with the others and they looked at Martin from around the small round table.

"So what do you have here, Martin? Can you make anything of it?"

Martin raised his eyebrows.

"Yeah, and Sarah, you needed that orientation training, believe me."

Sarah smiled, "Thanks, Martin, it did help."

Martin Carstairs got up and walked to a more open part of the room.

"OK Mr. Wayne, let me do the quick step-through of events at the apartment crime scene. This guy, Matt, is in bed, wakes up and sees someone holding a knife about to slash his throat, and he is caught up for a moment, probably held by the neck, and the thing attacking him tries to kill him quietly with it. Matt is a pretty husky guy, body builder, some wrestling, maybe some judo, say, and, you know, thinks he can handle himself. He does a good job at the start, is able to deflect the knife away and his attacker hits the headboard with it. The police photo shows that and the tip is buried over a half inch into what looks like an oak headboard. Still the wielder tries to get it out while Matt rolls out of the way, he sees the large bedside lamp, with its metal and marble base and grabs it two handed and hits the assailant in the back with it. That would be very painful and take the stuffing out of a lot of guys, but not this attacker. Matt probably grabbed him to struggle with him and got some footing off the bed, while the attacker is on it. Matt starts to realize that something is really wrong and when his attacker tries to push off the bed to unbalance him they spin and Matt lets the attacker's momentum hit the dresser, which is also oak. The attacker smashes through the top and two drawers under it. Demolished the center of the dresser when he hit it. That is not someone hyped up on drugs, Mr. Wayne. And he doesn't weigh what a guy his size should weigh."

"You're sure of that?" Bruce asked. Sarah was leaning forward.

"Mr. Wayne, I have seen Angel Dust, PCP, heroin, you name it, I've had a run in with it, including amphetamine cocktails that would kill most people. None of those gets very far with a broken back, believe me, and that is what the damage to the lamp indicates for what Matt did with it. Also, you have to drop someone of normal weight about 20 feet to get those results on the dresser, its got oak construction, too. For the size of the assailant and distance traveled, that puts it weight at least at 500 to 600 pounds, and more like 700 pounds. No matter what you are hopped up on, even hysterical strength won't do that for a normal guy. And if it did, you would have some major parts not working, like your legs, lower back, hips... and internal organs being ruptured. That ain't human, Mr. Wayne."

"I see." said Bruce.

"Sarah, this is really important: Matt used his skill to redirect its mass and speed. That was a damned smart thing to do. He did something really stupid, next, and continued to hold it and fight it and got pushed through the glass door to the outside. He rushed back in, probably on an adrenaline high, to fight it more. Then that attack saw him lifted over the bed and the struggle continued on the other side of the room where Matt got himself put through a closet door. That is just flimsy construction, a bit of laminated wood, an airspace and a another sheet of laminated wood. Still Matt was pushed bodily through that and then dragged out and lifted up. The crime scene photos show the huge bruise on his abdomen, his attacker punched to get his hand under Matt's rib cage to lift him. Matt was then thrown through another flimsy door, had his neck snapped on the wall in the hallway across from it and that was it for him. That ain't normal, Mr. Wayne. A really, highly trained fighter going after a someone untrained, with no conditioning and flabby physique would have problems doing that. Matt wasn't none of those, and his attacker made it look easy, normal, simple."

"How can you say that, Martin?" asked Father Jordan.

"His attacker hadn't punched Matt before. Didn't test his fighting reflexes for anything, and the hit, itself, is simple, and aimed to do just what it did and expect to get past any resistance to do it. You don't try something like that on anyone with trained reflexes or who is in very good shape. Matt was just that: in great shape and some fighting skills. He was picked up like a rag doll and tossed like one, easily, simply, quickly."

Sarah shivered as she heard the exacting description by Martin Carstairs.

"After that it heard Ginger, turned and fired once, then walked towards her firing as she tried to get down the hallway away from it. You can train for that, and circumstances like it, but doing it with intent to kill? Only a psycho could do that, or someone battle hardened to it. Even then its tough, but can be done, as training takes over. This attacker went seamlessly from killing Matt to killing Ginger, no hesitation, no missed shots, no extra punches. Clean and efficient."

Father Jordan nodded.

"I've seen that, Martin, but you're right. There is a lot to pay in the cost on someone to do that."

"That's it, exactly, Father. After it was done, it got what it needed, picked up anything it felt it needed and walked out. No hurry, no real disturbance, nothing like that. If it knew it was heard and would be chased it didn't care, and took the exact, same sort of pace leaving as it did coming in."

"You do know that sounds very much like this thing Kyle implicates, right?" asked Mr. Wayne.

"Uh-huh. I'd say he was dead accurate, no matter what it sounds like. No human could do this. The other killings in the area, yeah. This one? Uh-uh, not human and whoever it was would have died of system shock once the drugs wore off, if the internal bleeding and broken back, hips and femurs didn't stop them first, which it would. Not a dope killing this. Cold, methodical, steady, countering any problem and still doing what it wanted with the minimum of fuss. You need some years of martial arts training for that sort of stuff, and even then you don't get out of the hand to hand to distance mode without some moment to change streams of thought."

"If you had to classify this thing as dangerous, how dangerous would it be?"

"Ah, Mr. Wayne, if it was coming after me and anyone got in the way, I would say pretty much lethal. To be stopped with extreme prejudice with whatever you got at hand. Anything built like that in mass and density ought to take a LAW or recoilless round or two and notice it. Unless you got a vulnerable point for something less dangerous, that would be the minimum Mr. Wayne. That knife depth, broken dresser and broken Matt ain't normal."

Bruce got up and shook Martin's hand.

"That is what we needed to know, Martin. Sarah, Father Jordan?"

"But what you taught me did work, right?" asked Sarah.

"Uh-huh. Matt might have gotten away or at least got shot in the back leaving if he was smart. After the lamp and then the dresser, breaking its hold should have been top on his list. Can't say that he was macho or anything, he just never had a chance once it got that far."

Sarah nodded, shivering once.

"Thank you, Martin."

"No problem, Mr. Wayne. Loren is in the next room, she dropped over before you got here to ask a couple of questions."

Bruce nodded.

"We can spare that," Bruce said opening the door and walking to the next room down that was occupied.

Bruce knocked.

"Come in, its safe."

Bruce, Sarah and Father Jordan walked into a room just like the previous one, save that Loren had moved the table and chairs out of the way to clear the center part of the room along its widest dimension.

Loren Seifert had moved one pillow to the other end of the room and had put down pens on the floor and was mid-way down the room and standing as if walking, one arm extended pointing at the pillow. She turned her head.

"Mr. Wayne, Father Jordan, Sarah! I need a pillow holder."

Father Jordan stepped up taking out his pillow.

"Mind if I use my own?" he asked.

"Glad to! Would you step where that first pen is on the outside of it and hold the pillow up at chest height?"

He stepped over to it and held it out, while Loren stepped back to the end of the room.

"Now I'm compensating for height, drop the pillow down about two inches?"

Father Jordan lowered it.

Pointed with her finger and said, "Shot".

"Now to the next pen, and you may have to kneel hold it at chest height."

She stretched her stride to one, long step to the next pen in front of her, while Sarah went over to Father Jordan.

"Here, let me do that for you."

"Bless you, Sarah," he said handing the pillow to her.

Sarah knelt holding the pillow out.

"Inch down."

Sarah lowered it.

"Shot. Next pen, hold it just above the floor by two inches, at forty five degrees."

Sarah went to the next pen and did that with the pillow.

Loren stepped forward.

"Shot. That's the last I need for the interstitials that I needed. You can all step back and I will walk and pace the killer's shots."

She went to the wall while the others sat on the sofa and watched.

"Each pen is where there is a casing or a blood spatter. They line up in time and space, I just needed to get the angle right for pacing. That's done. If you have the initial crime scene report you can follow the bullet wounds."

Bruce took the folder on the table next to the sofa and took out the initial placement diagram filled out by an officer on the scene.

She stood facing the wall above the sofa.

"Turn, aim, safety off, fire, Shot.... lower back, above the hips target is falling."

She stepped forward.

"Second and tough to figure out is upper right shoulder, she is falling, her legs giving out and yet her abdomen forward.... Shot"

She stepped forward.

"Third down and to the left, she is further down, this should have been a heart shot but her body was shifting, so it missed... Shot"

She stepped forward her hand moving down with each step.

"Fourth her body arches again, shot goes above the previous by a bit...Shot"

She stepped forward, her hand coming down.

"Fifth she drops further, shooter has adjusted, tries for center of mass, low and an inch to the right... Shot"

She stepped forward, now near the pillow at the other end of the room, the pens had gotten closer together.

"Sixth she reaches forward and up, spoils the shot which enters the spine between the shoulder blades, still no heart... Shot"

She steps forward gun pointing down.

"Seventh back to heart... Shot"

A small step forward.

"She has reached up to the toilet, head target... Shot"

She walked back to the start, facing the wall, then turning, aiming.

"Shot one" step, "Shot two" step, "Shot three" step, "Shot four" step, "Shot five" shorter step, "Shot six" adjustment more than a step, "Shot seven" minor adjustment, "Shot eight".

"Seven plus one in the chamber when loaded. At just that pace, with the aiming points I've said with the distances involved. No question, it was trying for a textbook kill but didn't have experience in how the human body reacts to gun shots. Some of that was non-volitional, some volitional, neither were factored in to the shots save for gross alignment. Fired by step, left and right, no preferred shooting stance."

Sarah had just watched how the killer had killed Ginger.

Bruce was nodding.

"When you say textbook, which one?" he asked.

She smiled.

"If you take a look at all the Mafia, gang and pre-meditated murders with someone who has some knowledge of anatomy, you get one of the FBI major conclusion papers and charting out the vital hit areas for this sub-type of murder. Disable, lethal shot, head shot to finish it in case nothing else does. This shooter was trying to do that, but couldn't account for which way the body was reacting, so it was unseasoned, and it didn't expect resistance. It wanted the heart shot and kept missing, while a seasoned pro would have nailed it second shot or third, at worse. Actually, most will just end it at that point, but the nasty ones that need an 'assured kill' go for the final head shot. This shooter wanted that, to do it right, but had no experience. Trying for good placement and failing because the target was shifting, falling and trying to move both by autonomic and volitional motions."

Scowling, Father Jordan looked at the pens, her position and nodded.

"You kept your hand and aim steady," he said.

"The shooter did. Too steady and missed its shots."

That, somehow, got Sarah out of it.

"How do you mean, I mean with what was happening?"

Loren turned and warmly smiled.

"We haven't done any moving target or practical exercises, Sarah. When you know what you are doing, you may have a very steady hand by what others see, but in fact you are subtly moving and shifting your hand so as to bring everything back to target time and again. Watch a slow motion film of a fast shooting specialist and you see how the shocks going through the hand have a sub-millimeter change that are compensated for with experience. Beyond that you use your entire visual sense to get an idea of what is happening, and adjust for that. There are only so many ways a body can shift between shots at a given firing rate and you learn to adjust and compensate for them. This was a dead, slow walk with no compensation beyond minimal shot adjustment for target height and some lateral movement. Not enough compensation to anticipate where the body would be beyond gross placement, so the shots missed."

Bruce looked to Sarah and then Father Jordan.

"It is time for the meeting."

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