Somewhere in Oregon

Calling the room "the Lab" didn't quite seem to do it justice, but calling it "The Chamber" or "The Focus" or anything else that others had come up with just sounded wrong. Either the descriptions lent an air of megalomania and presumption or utterly failed to properly quantify its purpose. Therefore, "the Lab" stuck.

The room itself was large and stark. It spartan efficiency owing to it's method of construction. Bright lighting units in the ceiling flooded the room with austere white light, illuminating a space some 40' in diameter and height. The room was vaguely hexagonal, with the floor leveled out to reflect the vanity of men who would approach what this room was meant to hold.

The vanity of men.

Loaded words to be sure. A concept that had been debated in one language or another without hard resolution since men could think and record their thoughts. In truth, the observer reflected, the meaning was meaningless. There was no ultimate answer to the question, because any answer reflected the bias of the questioner.

The walls were prefabricated slates of light weight shielded metal, mainly light steel with depleted uranium sheeting. This was backed with large reservoirs of water contained in strong aluminum tubes, laid out in such a way as to create a radiation shield. Were it normal water in the tubes it would have to be almost ten feet of stacked material, but using GD's patented synthetic water in a hyper-compressed state, the water was almost as effective as the depleted uranium, and much easier to manufacture. That would seal the lab against particulate radiation. Additionally, inside each wall unit, buried behind the interior faces, were a series of magnetic coils that, when powered, would help shield against EM radiation.

Cameras and sensors stood mounted all around the room; some seated in wall units, some heavily shielded by carbon shells, others relatively naked. The door itself was a marvel of modern engineering, easily the heaviest component and shipped in on it's own cargo chopper. One younger researcher had compared it to the door securing the Encom building in that TRON movie. The puppy showed his ignorance with that statement. Aimes had fought himself hard to avoid humiliating the kid.

If one were to stop there, that might be enough, but the rest of the compound itself was likewise a marvel. There were virtually no above-ground facilities, and the interior structure was fabricated of an enzymatically bonded concrete bonded to and existing structure that, while it sounded like it came from a science fiction novel, was quite real and years ahead of even Global Dynamics's vaunted "flashcrete". The purpose of the prior facility was lost to the history of official secrets. Construction of some elements had hallmarks of early 20th Century construction, as early at World War I. Other parts of it were clearly constructed during the height of the paranoia during the second war.

As to the central chamber's original purpose, none could tell with any certainty. It was large, it was deep, and there was a purpose built control bunker nearby with indications that once there had been a steel shutter on rollers in place. Regardless, it had all served admirably. Once the tailored nanomachines had been programed and cut loose with new materials the interior structure had been stripped down by one to two inches in every room and refinished in an organic process. It had still required oversight, but one could imagine a day when these ubiquitous observers could literally drop off a standard shipping container full of material and let the machines automatically construct an entire facility with no oversight whatsoever.

Perhaps one could marvel at the power plant for the facility? Two liquid thorium core nuclear reactors running in tandem provided such an excess of energy that they were storing it in a series of advanced capacitor arrays. Every reading they'd ever acquired from the object's prior visitation indicated that the magnetic fields would have to be especially strong on occasion.

If that wasn't enough, the theoretical observer's attention could be called to the advanced version of Global's own EM shield, tuned, tightened, and focused to a tighter yield than anything that antiquated system had yet achieved. It served as a final barrier against all energetic radiation emissions. With this shield in place they should be undetectable to any observer short of the most advanced spy satellites, and besides, those were not supposed to be looking this way for the duration of the project.

All of that was impressive, and it was elevated even higher if the observer appreciated that this whole project had been put together in secret, and maintained its secrecy. Certainly there were older sections of the facility that had been expanded upon and re-purposed. As many resources as were at the hands of the Consortium, they amounted to little if they weren't used wisely.

Doctor Donald Aimes, deceased husband to Doctor Allison Blake, father to Kevin Blake, and an utter lie even to himself, stared in fascination at the centerpiece of the whole show. The one component that would make everything possible.

The great and vaunted Nathan Stark's most debilitating folly sat on a stand in the middle of the lab's safe room, resting on a perch that was the central focus of the room's security suite: The original sample fragment from the Artifact!

Delivered by his own hand into the grasping fingers of Beverly Barlowe, without Stark's memory of having done so, the last remains of the universe before the Singularity event, an alternate reality made whole…

The possibilities that laid before them were endless. If this worked according to plan, then the already coalescing energetic anomalies that they'd begun picking up months ago would concentrate on the last physical remnant of the original item. There were backups, of course...

Aimes turned toward his second in command, a middle-aged woman of austere bearing and little humor who called herself Melissa McCabe. Though she appeared quite sour to be saddled with this project, he knew secretly that she was thrilled. She had hoped to lead when her well handler Mr. Mayimbe had tasked her with the assignment, and had been disappointed to find herself playing second fiddle to a scientist that she knew nothing about, but when you became a member of the Consortium the benefits outweighed the small hassles and perceived sleights.

That she had never once met Walker Mayimbe face to face mattered little, and made it all the easier for Aimes to assume his old identity once more. His cadence and tone and his entire body language were entirely different as Donald Aimes made connecting the two an even more difficult task.

"Well, Dr. McCabe?" Doctor Aimes asked of his lieutenant.

She nodded briskly, saying, "Final checks on the reactors are good. Everything is in place and the catastrophic failure units are fixed as well. If we have any overload resulting in meltdown the cores will drain into their neutralizing baths."

Aimes nodded. The new reactors were a variation on the LFTR idea, and were supremely useful. They also created an intense amount of heat and needed to be isolated from the facility at large. He'd worked with such before, far superior in his mind to the solid core uranium reactors favored by nearly everyone on the planet.


"As before, Doctor Aimes. We're all on board for now, but I hope we start seeing some results soon," Her voice was passionless.


"We've been at this for a while, and the entertainment options are scarce. Also-" It was an old argument and Aimes had no remaining stomach for it.

"Melissa, we've been over this. It's a volunteer job! If anyone wants to abandon this they're free to go, as always." Years of experience kept him from betraying anything as he failed to add that they would be sans any memory of the project. He continued, saying tersely, "I will only work with committed people who aren't afraid of a little sacrifice!" Though he never raised his voice or expressed outright anger, it was plain to see, and McCabe pulled back. He cautioned himself that Doctor Aimes was intense yes, but he did not have Mayimbe's terrifying surety. Restrain yourself, Donald, He thought.

She sighed and dropped her head. "I know, Doctor Aimes. But the fact remains that we are getting anxious for results and a chance to study this thing."

He nodded. "Yes, I know. I am too. We should not have much longer to wait, though. Readings indicate that we should have enough charge built up to send out an energetic pulse and attract it by force if we have to."

She smiled grimly.

They both wanted this, badly. Few who had gotten whisper of what Global Dynamics had been guarding jealously for the last 65 years could think of nothing else than the chance to study this ultimate puzzle.

Ah Nathan, Aimes thought to himself, You could have achieved so much more with us! But no. You had to have it your way! In the end it looks like it won't be you to unravel the Artifact's mystery after all.

Soon. Soon it would be his turn. The man pretending to be Donald Aimes returned his second's predatory grin.

The chance was worth anything!

Late January 2011
Eureka, OR

For still being officially winter, it was a rather warm day. The sky was mostly clear, it hadn't rained for a few days, and the fields were dry. Baseball tryouts were in a few weeks, and Kevin was considering joining them this year, but he was still debating that.

For the most part sports usually didn't excite him, and it wasn't really like Tesla had the greatest sports teams in their division, but Jack seemed so obsessed with it, and the times that Kevin had agreed to play ball with him and a few other dinosaurs around Eureka he'd really enjoyed it. It was even cool that they didn't want to use virtual reality gear for it.

Right now, though, he had other priorities occupying his thoughts.

Sitting in the bleachers at one of the two baseball diamonds in the middle of Eureka's central park with a pad of paper and a pencil, he observed all the collection of friends and other sports types warming up for some practice baseball.

Everyone on the field right now was going to tryout for the school baseball team, and this was something akin to an unofficial tryout, but for the most part it was an excuse for a bunch of folks that loved baseball to play around while the weather was remotely nice. In the Pacific Northwest you took those opportunities for all they were worth.

Kevin sat alone, absent from the sides of his friends Connor and Dre for once, and for the most part because he was absolutely certain that Dre, at the very least, would rib him mercilessly if he saw where Kevin was focusing his attention.

Looking at the field, Kevin couldn't be bothered to remember why he was supposed to be here, he had eyes for only one thing.

At present she was standing at the batter's station at home plate, whatever they called it. Her name was Anika Cole, and she was a year ahead of Kevin in school, fifteen, and really pretty. Her family was from the pacific islands and her heritage was mixed pan-asian with some darker coloring from her father's side of the family, and this long black waterfall of hair that she kept in a ponytail most of the time. Kevin knew that her eyes were a rich dark brown that sparkled with hints of amber when the light caught them just so, but most especially when she laughed.

While he didn't like reflecting on the experience of that last disastrous camping trip with Jack, Fargo and Doctor "I-Wanna-Bang-Yer-Mom", he thought what a really good idea it might be to get another "Emo" project and use it like Jo Lupo had accused him of using it… if he could get away with it!

He entertained the notion for a few seconds and then dismissed it. It would be a really creepy thing to do; something one of the mouth-breather meatheads might try, and he was above that.

Still, it was kinda hard to focus on his paper while she was lining up for the pitch. She missed the first pitch, just barely. She looked upset with it, but set her features in determination. He didn't analyze too much why he liked it when she looked like that, but he knew that when she really buckled down she got results.

Apparently the pitcher knew it too, he threw her a trick ball that slid low at the last second and she committed to a hard swing.

In his mind just then, Kevin fully intended to call out some sort of support, but the will to do so never materialized. Instead he stared raptly at the catcher's glove and retraced the ball's trajectory in his mind's eye. As he thought about it, specifically the point at which the ball apparently began to dip, he realized that the trajectory had suggested this course throughout the entire length of the pitch.

This led to wondering what kind of spin had been on the ball as it left the pitcher's hand. Kevin reflexively though back to that and tried to recall the pattern on the ball as it left. A few seconds of thought and he had the initial vector, or at least as near as he could come without additional tools. Lest he forget this critical information, he turned his focus to the pad and pencil in hand and began writing down what he understood in the most economical language he could.

He continued to scribble notations and formula describing the duration of the pitch, the vectors, and potential speed based on his distance from the observable data and other miscellaneous data.

Once he was satisfied he had the formula down correctly he looked up and witnessed another pitch. In moments he was adding adjustments to the first formula while noting the math for the current throw. His pencil was flying at remarkable speed across the paper.

The batter changed up, and then did so again. The balls continued to fly for the next batter, and the next. Kevin continue to note each throw, the formulas flowing from him almost faster than he could calculate and-

"Hey Kevin, what's up?" asked a lilting female voice and with a start he looked up, realizing that Anika was standing right next to him and looking at him with a mix of hesitancy and confusion. "What're you doing here? Trying out for..." she trailed off as she looked down at the paper. Keven looked too.

In his lap lay a notepad utterly jammed with tight handwriting showing off a line after line of formula. They were all over the page-multiple pages-in a mad scrawl. Notations, diagrams, calculations. There was even a column of speculations. Each section was tagged by the batter's name, and there were force and balance diagrams analyzing each batter's swing, inconsistencies, and more.

He didn't remember writing any of it...

"What the hell?" he asked in a soft whisper.

Disclaimer: I don't own Eureka, it's characters, or its concepts, I'm just playing for fun and an educational experience.

Author's Notes: I haven't checked in with Walker for a little while so I figured it was time to let people know where he was and what was going on with him. Welcome to the true "Project Archimedes".

Here we begin to see the first changes in Kevin. There's more to come.

Enjoy, and as always please review and let me know what you did and did not like. I can only get better if you tell me where I pooched it at.