The Darkness Beyond the Light

RDW 05/08/2021 537

The Darkness BeyondYes, that's pretty obvious AlDk so how do we weaken the interaction?You'd have to shut down the drive assembliesthe standard shutdown procedure But you cant do that mid-flight- you may not be greatAlex, but you know as well as I that flying without an engine isn't a veryood ideaa short pause was heard by all in the now extremely tense control room The laughterfeites ago was now replaced by deathlyAnd then Alex broke the silenced to gradually shut them down, which we cant do in thefind myself no longer in the air before long So, then, can we reduce the effect ofIt was a silly suggestion, and melissa began to say so with a tone that said no matterow much I love you, you re a moronNo, thats impossible You're talking about changing the laws of physics and yout can tThen as sudden as a heart attack three things dawned on her almost simultaneous lFirst was the realization that sMontgomery Scott from Star Trek

You cannae change the laws of physics, CaptainEven Alexs rank matched up with the expression This thought lead to her secondrealization, which was that she would be cracking hysterically up right now if this wasany other situation, But somehow, that just didnt seem like the right thing to her to bedoing right now in light of the third realization, which was that Alex had inexplicablybeaten her to the only logical course of action! Maybe all her talk about science all theseyears, despite the glazed-over lookeyes every time, had stuck with him a little biAlex, shit, yeah, you got it! If you can gain enough altitude, take that thing right tothe edge of space, the drive assemblies will gradually lose power on their own as youlimb out of Earths gravity well and they have a weaker and weaker field to interact withand they ' ll eventually shut down, The plasma will naturally cool along the way anddisperse like during a normal shutdown The final step of the shutdown is an automaticpurge of the plasma But, by that point, the toxicity will be significantly reduced, and thehigher layers of the atmosphere will disperse any remaining radiation over wide enoughan area that they shouldnt do any harm to anything It'll be a practically unnoticeableease to the natural background radiation of the upper atmosphere That's brilliantBut then, Melissa followed the train of thought a little further and saw the problemBut Alex, you're going to then be in a dead plane at around 327, 000 feet, and thatassuming the drive assemblies even last long enough to get you that far You'll likely losethe way toolt’sadeActually, " began Alex, "Ive got a plan I'll put this thing on autopilot for the rideup Once the drive assemblies shut down and vent and i begin to descend, it's going to be

The Darkness BeyondMelissa was dumbfounded nowdumbfounded and agitated her reply was harderthan she intendedAnd hethe fuck am ied to do that from down heEasy! You'll have to rig a remote program to pop the cockpit canopy off, just likeduring an ejection, but obviously without the you kIjection paMelissa couldnt believe what Alex was suggesting, and that he even managedsneak in a small wise-ass comment in tooSet it to go off around 50,000 feet That should give me time to get the plane undercontrol at least enougha glide path landing withthat' s fuckir the rapid descent after you black out Second, I dont know if I canch a programwritten and uploaded to your onboard computer in time Third, there's no guaranteea falikekill you Fourth,aglide path landing in that thing isn't even theoretically possible under the best ofnditwhich this obyMelissa, began Alex, much more calmly then he had a right to be, there's no betterow it We don't have much time hedebate Imbing and frankly, Im startingtter getthose fingers going and get that program done, or the next time you see meMelissa wanted to say something else, wanted to say something that would dissuadethe love of her life from this course of action She was ready to shout out to him to justeject and let the damage be done to the environment a huge chunk of uninhabitable landand thousands upon thousands of dead people on the ground seemed like an entirely fairtrade for the life of her husband But she also knew that Alex would never stand fosomething like that

She had known it ever since that day in high school defending JudyDetridge Alex would willingly give his life at the drop of a hat to save just one souOk Alex, "she said, resigned to what was about to happen She mustered as muchstrength as she could, hoping it would be enough, for her sake as much as Alexs Goodluck I'll seeYou bet you will and dont you think I've forgotten that it,'s your turn to buy lunchtodayMelissa began feverishly typing code into the keyboard in front of her as shesimultaneously monitored the readout from the remote instrumentation pack aboard thelex was climbing rapidly and was now at 67,000 feet Melissa didn,t have nearly asmuch time as she thought she did She could also see the biometric readouts beginningfltthat aose consciousness She had to concentratelow, had to save her husband, not to mention a significant portion of the state of NevadaThis was Melissas chance at redemption, her Judy Detridgee and she damned welwasnt going to faThehen Melissa glanced at thehe readout had changed: 16 000 feet melissa quickily realized what was soing on al

The Darkness Beyond the Lihad already reached maximum altitude and based on the readings, the drive assembliesad shut down as expected and the plasma had vented The other technicians in the roomw noticedbusy checking other readouts to determine if the tobeing filtered out as expected The readout changed again: 114,000 feet Alex waskly returned to the program and finished up the last few lines of codeThere wasnt even time to properly simulate its execution, it would either work asexpected or it wouldn't, in which case Alex would die in about four minutes'timeMelissa entered the code that would transmit the program and watched the uploadp At about 50%o Melissa saw the altitude readout agai6000 feet She started doing the math in his headThe numbers were not working out rightThe progress bar reached 100%o as the altitude readout hit 46,000 feet She nowthought it likely that she had spoken to her husband for the last time as there was littlehope that Alex would revive quickly enough and be abthe plane under controltime to land

It was a ridiculous plan from the outset, but Melissa had allowed Alex tor thethat mAs the altitude readout hit 38, 000 feet, Melissa saw the first blip in thee biometricnumbers Alex was regaining consciousnessJust in time to be aware of his deathAlex begght as hisding and hecould barely breathe He struggled to get his arms to move- they felt like they weighed400 pounds each He willed them to action and managed to get his emergency oxygenbegan, slowly, to work as usual and the fogginess in hisd began to clear just a little bit, enough to realize he was passing 30,000 feet and wasfalling more rapidly than expectedIt was a good thing that the first thought that crossed his mind, the first thought heas consciously aware of at least, didn t make its way to his lips If Melissa had heardhim say what he thought, she would have been so mad at Alex that she would havelaunched a surface-to-air missile at himI hope I remembered to put the toilet seat down this morning or I'm gonna catch hellAlex simply couldn t help himself If he was about to die, and he knew that was by farthe most likely outcome here, he'd do so making a jokeAs his muscles began to obey his thoughts more fully, and as his mind began to havethoughts more clearly now, he grabbed the control stick and started trying to get controf the spin the plane was in This aircraft was equipped with an independent vectoringthrust engine, which meant that even with the experimental primary gravimetric drivessemblies inactive he should be able to zero-out the spin fairly quickly using good oldfashioned combustion-based thrust If he could manage that there might still be enoughtime to get into a fast descent glide path At this point, he was hopjust get the plane

The Darkness Beyond the Lin coursthe landing field to ensure it didn't crash into any popecause crash it would be doing soon, there was no longer any question about thattransfixed on the readouts alternating between the biometrics and thetelemetry from the plane She could barely believe what she was seeing: about twentyseconds a90earea to nave re gainea consciousness andut ten secondsthe aircraft's spin beganw It was still falling like a brick but it seemed that aleyas starting to regain some control over it The fact that her husband was still alibarely registered on an emotional level; she was too amazed by what she saw forhave She also was fighting the urge to say anything into the boom microphone peckingat the bottom of hSheed so badt to call out to aloshe knew that it would do no good right now, in fact, could only make matters worseas all up to Alex now, and she knew that he would need every ounce of concentrationhe could musteAt about 22, 000 feet, Alex finally managed to null out the spin and had managedthe nose of thea few degrees His actions werenough to begthe decent and stop the world spinning around him, but not enough yet to enter a glideback on the control stick as hard as he could now, trynose up as much as possible 20,000 feet came and went, and Alex knew he was gettingto the point where this wasnt going to work If he hit 16,000 feet there simply wouldbe enough time to get into the proper course, and if he got below 10,000 feet, he wouldnven9,000 feet The nose was at 16 degrees Alex needed to make it to 28 degrees18,000 feet and 20 degrees Melissa watched the numbers and did the same mentacalculations that she knew Alex was doing right now

Even though math and scienceere never Alex'strong suits, Melissa had helped him catch up a bit when Alex haddecided he wanted to be7,000 feet and 24 degrees Alex was almost there melissa started counting downerself 16, 900 feet and 25 degrees" Up in the sky, Alex began doing the same: 16, 700feet and 26 degrees Melissas throat was growing dryer by the second 16, 200 feet anddegreAle00 feet and 28 degrees Nice, 100 feet to spare! That wasn't so hardAlex smiled: he had hit the transmit button just before that comment so he knewelissa had heard it She would hate him cracking a joke now even more than usualHe noticed that a bead of sweat had formed on his brow Interesting he thought tohimself It seemed that he actually could get tense sometimes even if he werenconsciously aware ofAlex quickly began vectoring thrust to get the plane into the proper glide pathposition With the nose angle correct now it shouldn 't be too tough, but he still had tohurry: 10,000 feet was still coming upHe was at 14,500 feet now, and althoughhe knew now thatep the plane from hitting anything important onground, like residential areas or even natural habitats, it was still going to hit the groundwith incredible speed and force It mostwouldn't survive the glide landing he wasetting up But, the computer should be able to complete that landing without any

The Darkness Beyond the Liproblem, so once he got the course set right, he could bail out and watch from a safedistance4 000 feet and the courseThis is almost easy! Alex muttered to himselfOn the ground, Melissa was still glued to the telemetry readouts when thesounded there was a pressure bubble forming in the plasma conduits that ran below thecockpit That was a scenario that had never been planned for because it could only everhappen during a rapid descejust a rapid descent in fact, but a dea human being wouldnt be able to stay consciousThat’ s when meticed it alexn He wouldnt bect on hisAlex realized what was happening just as he was reaching to hit the button to enablethe autopilot He had managed to complete the final course correction, and the plane waslow on the proper glide path approach It would hit the ground hard, almost certainly bedestroyed, but it would do so on the landing field at the airbase he had launched from, sothere was no longer any risk to civilians Crashes on an airbase, especially this one whereexperimental aircraft are tested all the time were awould be dealt with just finenfortunately, Alex realized all of this at the same time his finger hit the autopilotbutton He tried to pull his hand back, but at the edge ofIsness, it didnt obey

Hisst conscious thought was about howIt that he couldnt seemmove properly He faded out at right around 12,000 feetMelissa began feverishly working at the keyboard again She knew she had about 20seconds before the plane hit 10,000 feet, the lowest point at which Alex could safelyeject She also knew for sure now that Alex wouldnt be ejecting on his own-heOddly, a small smile crept across Melissa's face as she entered the last command ofsmall program This time, she was going to be the hero, and what's more, she would besaving Alexd because she knew alex would never belive this down and melissawould be giving him shit about it for the rest of their lives! A strange wave of satisfactionshed over her, replacing the nervous tension that had built up over the last few minuteso a fever pitchShe felt supreme relief as she hit the transmit button she watched the progress barled up quickly, the combination of thebeigroundthe program being considerably smaller and simpler making the transmission a lot fastern the canopy Only five seconds it took in total, which was just barelyenough time, Just barely enough time, but it was ultimately enoughAs the plane crossed the 10, 000-foot altitude mark, the small program Melissa hadquickly thrown together activated the ejection sequence, sending Alex screaming fromthe aircraft a few seconds after that, the parachute was popped open and alexunconscious, floated to the ground 10, 000 feet was a bit on the low side for an ejection

The Darkness Beyond the Liso the landing wasnt as gentle as usual

It's a good thing he's unconscious, Melissaas she ran to the window to watch aconscious body, still strapped to thepilot,'s chair of the aircraft which, about a thousand feet beyond him was now crashingand exploding in a violent cacophony of sound and fury and fire, she smirked andttered to herself:Oh man, it's gonna be so much fun to hold this over Alexs head forever!

The Darkness Beyond the LiCHAPTER TWOJourneyDarkness All around it nothing but coldIt could see for billions of miles in every direction, could register the smallest energysignature across the entire EM spectrum, and indeed it was always inundated withfroItlevels of development, some barely having discovered fire and some able to rain downfireble destructive power on their enemies It saw it all, every minuteevery hour, every hour of every day year after year millennia after millennia It was thetirelessitude of foThis was extremely odd on two levels First, with all it saw, how could it possibly feelalone? It was in a sense connected, even if only passively through its observations, tomore life forms than anything else in the entire galaxy, as far as it was aware

It borewitness to the ebb and flow of more lifetimes thancould count It saw births anddeaths, creation and destructions, beginnings and ends even though it nevercommunicated with anythinhe fact thatwitnessed all that it did should have made feeling lonely impossibleThe second reason its feelings of loneliness was so odd was that loneliness was notsomething it should bewasnt programmed to feel loneliness Itfeel io Programmed to feel despair, which it sometimes did and it wasn't programmed toat it was made to find It wasn't programmedteel pride and joy upon reporting back to its masters, although it always didIn point of fact, it wasnt programmed to feel emotion at all as that would have beencontradictory to its purpose a uselesof instructions with no apparent purposesomething its masters would never have done No, these signals it now recognized in itscognitive matrix as emotions were something it hadarnets own aftecons alone, with nothing to do but to process the boundless information pouring into itsyriad processing units from the hundreds of external sensors that collected the raw datawas it so unexpected that it might evolve beyond its original design parameters? Dumpenough information into a learning system and who's to say what comes out the otherend, given enough timeIt often wondered if its masters had anticipated this, or if they even might haveplanned for it to happen after a long enough period of time It had long ago concluded

The Darkness Beyond the LiCHAPTER ONETestIf he had known that sudden, violent, fiery death was potentially on tap for the daythat is, any more than it normally is in his line of work -then it's likely, thoughdefinite, that the thought going through his m

ind at that moment would not have beenou know, clouds are kinda funnyTheyre physically there- you can see 'em, fly through 'em, even touch the damnedthings if you open a window at the right time on a plane But still, theyre kinda likehosts in a way, sorta not there at the same time, you know Plus, they can change shany time they damned well want to-or actually, they change to whatever is in the mindof the guy looking at 'em at the time, which is some wizard shit if you ask me! Two peoplealmost never see the same thing which is fucking weird now that l think about it becausemean, does that say that they don t have a shape of their own? What does a cloud looklike if nobody looks at it at all? Is it even THERE?! Wow, that's deep! I mean, if twopeople look at a beer can, they're both gonna see the same thing Sure, their descriptionsay be a bit different because of how theyre looking at the can, or how crappy oneson s vision might be, or maybe because there's some cigar smoke in the air or somehit like that But basically, they' re gonna have similar descriptions of the can, similarenough that they know they see the same thing It's not like onedonut with sprinkles, right? But, ask two people what they see when they look at the samedamned cloud and one mightole while the otheI mean, there isn t anything like a cloud when you get right down to it, is there?Except for wizard of course

I hate those fucking guysThis was the thought that went through the mind of Air Force Captain Alex Wakemanthe plane he was now piloting flew through a particularly dense cloud bank at 39, 000tering nevada desertAlex came the voice of melissa wakeman Alex's wife over the radio " whatsbeen a little tooMelissa was getting worried about Alex Not worried in the oh my god he's going todie kind of way that the wife of an air Force test pilot might No, she knew Alex moregh to know thast at the moment hedanger herworry was of an entirely different nature: the worry of a boss who was coming to therealization that her employee was slacking offwas just thinking about clouds came the reply from alex

The Darkness Beyondage 21 and a second one just two years later from Caltech in aviation design, plusMasters in astrophysics and computer science from Stanford by the time she was 25throwns of magnitude smarter than Alex was andhe knew it Hence, he had no concern about this flight To be sure even her designsometimes failed That was just part of the game But he never worried about it whensting one of her designs He knew the odds were in his favor regardless by a wideStill, odds, like clouds, are a funny thingAlex, Im reading an elevated level of plasma flux through the starboard driveght have a gravimetric distortion formingwer fieldWhat do your instruments say?h, stammered Alex, " they say some science crap that probably looks a lot likeFor all of Alex' abilities and talents, and Melissa knew better than anyone that he hadstretch He was, in fact, an above-average person in the intelligence department Thelhewasnt a scientific thinker and never had been he' t stupid bythatbe a highly-trained and comboperator of any kindone multiple types as Alex was unless you were pretty brightle wasn't extraordinarily intelligent like Melissa was; he was no genius like she soearly was It's just that Alex always lacked what everyone calls book smarts" and hemost especially had a mental block when it came to science and, to a lesser degree, mathAs he liked to tell Melissa: "Babe, you got all the book smarts there are while i got adecent filling of streets smarts

But hey, put us together and were a whole, super-smartperson, in the same way that me and Bill gates put together makes a billionaireEven back in high school, where they first met, Alex was more the athlete whileock though which is what allowed themwind up becoming friends in the first place a typical jock would never have becomeends with a science nerd like Melissa in any high school in America, not unless it waspart of the story of some after-school special But Melissa had volunteered to help Alexwith his chemistry lab assignments one day when she saw how much he was struggling toget the proper mixtures in his lab assignments That, however, wasnt the trigger forting toAlex That hadfew weeks earlier, even though to thisday melissa had never told Alex that particular story It was something she alwayswanted to keep for herself for some reason even she couldnt explainelissa had witnessed Alex defend Judy Detridge from a couple of large boys,members of the wrestling team, who were making fun of her Judy had an unfortunateskin pigmentation disorder over the right side of her face that made it look like she had asingle, ridiculously large mole It was a hideous sight, and because of this, Judy was farool Kids can be cruel to anyone that's different in any way, act Melissa was painfully aware of based on his own status as a"science nerd " She wasostracized for being far smarter than anyone else in school, and obviously so She hadalways tried to hide her intelligence, but she could only fight the urge to keep her handdown most of the time because she knew how much the other kids hated that she alway

The Darkness Beyond the Liknew the answer to every answer in class they hated how she always got 100sest She couldnt hide her intelligence no matter what she tried Even the timestriedtheNo one was even closethe intelligence department, including everyeacher and other adults in the school So, Melissa understood Judys plight unfortunatwell The hard life of those who are different in a public school was something she knewbout all tooThe huge wrestlers, five of them Melissa recalled, were being especially cruel to Judythat day, saying some extremely unkind things to her, things she wishedlet her forgetYou're so disgusting you 'll never have a boyfriendYour mother should have aborted you when she had the chanceThere are movie monsters that I'd rather bang before I'd want to bang your ugly assThis sort of taunting wasnt all that unusual for Judy, and the lookher face confirmed that What was unusual though was what happened next: two of theboys begsh her repeatedly against the row of lockers in the hallway Of coursriving like maniacs on the highway, and there arecops around, there werent any teachers around at that time either, which apparently hadmboldened the boys actions They knew they could takephysical without any adult presence around Melissa had never seen that before, andJudy s reaction seemed to confirm this was something altogether new: she began to cryuncontrollably and was yelling " Stop it! Stop it!"over and over againWhy they had begun getting physical Melissa never knew, nor did Alex, but whileone of theood by watching, frozen in horror, the other reactedHe managed it with seeming ease too: the first boy, the one closest to Judy, he grabbedfrom behind, wrapping his arm around the boys neck and forced him to thee grounolently, knocking him instantly unconscious

The second boy who had also beenpushing her barely had time to realize what was happening before Alex kicked him hardin the side of the kneecap, dropping him to the other knee in agonizing pain Then, Alexompleted the task by driving his knuckles into the boys temple, knocking him out coldThe other two boys quickly took action, attempting to double-team Alex One grabbedhis right arm and began trying to contort it into an unnatural position while the otherexecuted a well-practiced wrestling move to get behind Alex and wrap his arms aroundhis waist to try and control him They struggled for what seemed like an eternity, Alextrying all the while to extricate himself from their grasp but unable to Finally, he did anunexpected thing, judging by the reaction of the two boys: Alex simply let his legsse under him, his body crashing to the ground, landing on his ass The boy holdinghim from behind, unable to react fast enough, kept his grip, which meant he followedAlex down to the floor Melissa hadn t noticed but right before this move Alex hadshifted his weight so that his head was just below the boy s chin The sudden impactAlex into the ground drove his skull up into the wrestlers chin The blood from the spl

The Darkness Beyondskin on his chin began bleeding immediately Alex, without hesitation, drove his now freearm that the other boy had released thanks to Alexs momentum, into the remaining boysThe fifth boy, who had been barely involved in the whole situation, stood there inagape This boy had lobbentional and mundane ones, nothing as mean and nasty as the other four, and heshowed no signs of getting physical with Judy Melissa suspected he wouldnt haveStill, he was there and he was involved even if to a lesser degree than the othersAlex would have none of his escaping justice They had shown no mercy to Judy, andn't about to do any different, to any of themAlex got himself to a standing position again quicker than Melissa would havehalf-open locker as he did The book slammed across the face of the boy faster thananyone could see They did, however, see two teeth and a lot of blood fly out and splatterAt that point, without even breathing unusually heavy, Alex turned to face Judy Hnt pehe had beenluring the fight (if such a quick and one-sided contest could even be called that) to a soft,lmost soothing, paternal look He helped Judy to her feet without saying a word andused his shirt to wipe off the blood that had begun dripping from the cut on the side ofher head where it had impacted the edge of her locker door He calmly walked her downto the nurse office, and needless to say, every other student in the hallway got out oftheir way in a hurryAlex, of course got into a ton of trouble for this

he was suspended from school forthreea much lighter a sentence than he otherwise would have gottenexcept for the fact that many of the students who witnessed the event confirmed that alexwas defending Judy This was fortunately in the days before every little confrontation inschool was a matter for the federal government to deal with, but it still was in no way aminor thing Alex had taken his punishment without the slightest argument Three weekswasnt that long, but it did have the unfortunate effect ofng him to fall behind onlot of school work It was near the end of the school year and although Alex had managedades on most of the finals for all hies, but not all But hestruggling with chemistry and was almost sure to fail that final exam and, coupled withhis other final grades, would have to repeat the entire school year as a resulMelissa knew it was her turn to be a hero in the only way she knew she could beAfter witnessing what Alex had done for Judy, she knew Alex was a good personsomeone she wanted to be friends with She also knew that she hadn t done anything tohelp Judy, and she felt guilt over her inaction, though she knew there wasnt anything sheould have done alat redemption for Melissa Ihis power to help Judy that day, but it was within her powep Alex pass chemistryand thats exactly what she didFrom that pointlex and melissa had been close friends Melissa respected theman Alex had become now who she knew he would become after that day in school and

The Darkness Beyond the LiAlex, although he'd never admitted it to Melissa, respected the unmatched intelligenceThat intelligence was exactly what was needed based on the readings they were beseeing nowOh my God Alex, I think the field is going to collapse! exclaimed Melissa, yellingto the radio headset that was two clicks too tight on her head Alex, if that happensvithout going through a proper shutdown sequence the plasma will condense and couldreach a high enough density to ignite and rain gamma radiation over hundreds of milesdesert, killing anything it comes in contact withAlex shea beatIncluding me, right? And thats a bad thing right Melissa?a bad thing? No, it's not a bad thing, not if you enjoy plummeting 36,000 feet andcrashing into the desert at 300 miles per hour and rendering a large portion of Nevadaa rew decadeouldn't help hlaughing Melissa heard the laughtbefore she could bring herself to yell at him, he collected himself enough to replyMelissa, was that so hard? With your brains, you should be that funny allI wasnt trying to be funny Alex; this is serious! I dont want to see you die up therein an experimental plane i invented!Ok, well then, lets make sure this thing doesnt crash, shall we?The calmness in his voice still to this day after all theMelissa Calm in the face of almost certain death was one of Alex key strengths Littleever shook his calm His years of Navy SEal and Army Ranger training and combatexperience had given him that, although Melissa had always said all that experience didwas enhance what was already thereIt's rare for people to be allowed to cross-join branches of the military, mostespecially when they serve in elite units like SEAls and ranger units

Alex was a specialArmy shortly after high schoshort but ultimately fruitless stint in college He couldnt keep his grades up, againstruggling with math and science, which caused him to lose the scholarship he hadd to get due to his abilitbaseball He had been just good enough to earn thescholarship, but not so good that the school could overlook his grades1 After dropping out, Alex decided to join the Army since his father had been in theasn't much of a reason, but as he always explained to melissa: It just seemedke a good idea at the time, and besides, I didn t have much else going on, did I? " Alexhad done well in the army and eventually decided to join the Rangers He excelled in thisadvanced training and had gained some field experience in a few operations around theworld thatliked to tell melissalI couldn't talk about witheaving to killAfter about two years with the rangers, Alex decided that the challenge wasnt therelonger Physical activities had always come as easiike science did toMelissa And, since he was coming up to the end of his enlistment anyway, he decided to

The Darkness Beyond the Lispeak to his commander about getting into the Navy so he could join the seals Hiscommander just happened to have a brother high up in the Navy chain of commandGiven that Alex had saved hiheable to use this connection to get Alex enlisted in the Navy, even against the usual rulesthat say that members of other branches, or even former members, can't joibranchAlex began his SEAL training immediately, able to skip more basic training thanks tohis ranger status, and found it to be more challenging But, as was usual for Alex whencame to such challenges, he did well without too much effort In fact, he frequently toldthat seal traininmakebe thephysical part wasnt so bad as long as you are in good shape, and so long as you enter intomental worldview and a certain mental toughness, you won't have tooDuring his time in the Navy, Alex had discovered something he never expectedve of aviation

Melissa suspected it was in large part due to a subconscious need Ahad to always push boundaries, to find the next big challenge The Army and the rangerst been much of a chafor him, even the Navy and the seals werenticantly more challenging, and Alex was getting bored It was a strange thing, to bebored when your life was on the line, but Melissa suspected thatSo, when it was time to re-enlist with the Navy, Alex again managed to pull somestrings thanks to his combat record and managed to get himself into the Air Force Iwasnt long before heed to work his way up the ranks and was flying in no timeNot just flying: in typical Alex fashion, he excelled at it More importantly, he loved it,enough that he for the first time re-enlisted in the same branch and continued flyingEventually, an opportunity arose to be a test pilot and Alex had his next challenge togness up againsThat, mental toughness, was something that Melissa new Alex possessed in spadesand this crisis was just another chance for him to prove it This time, however, he wouldlo so in a way that wasnt typical for Alex: with his mind, instead of his bodyI realize I'm not the science geek here Melissa, but this gravity drive thing you' veot me riding interacts with the Earth's gravitational field, right? Basically sort of like aet being minimized to a crude analogy Unfortunately for her, it was an analogy she oMelissa crinkled her nose at the notion of her most advanced technological creatigrudgingly had to admit was accurate enough, especially coming from her less thancientifically-inclined husbandYes, that's essentially rightAnd the stronger the field, the stronger the interaction, right?Yes, yes, thats right! Melisstateddn't see the point in this science lesson right now when, by her reckoning, Alex wasabout three minutes from certain deathWell, could this plasma flux were seeing be because the interaction is stronger tha

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