After being reinstated by the Imperium, Dr. Gadera was given a change of clothes, shown to his new quarters, and then taken to the lab. There an eager man waited at the door. He rushed forward to shake Gadera's hand.
"Dr. Gadera. I'm Dr. Tondi. Let me say it's an honor to meet you. Your research on fractal equations, particle acceleration, wave emitters...it's just all so brilliant. I'm a big fan."
"Thank you," Gadera responded.
"You must want to see the lab, follow me."
“Normally this is a one man lab, but the Imperium wanted me to help assist you in anyway possible.”
Gadera grimaced at this. He knew the truth was that the Imperium wanted to keep tabs on him. After all, until a few days ago, he had been a prisoner for two years.
“I actually requested to work with you,” Tondi interrupted Gadera's thoughts. “I've followed all your research, and actually tried to continue it after you left.” Tondi stopped and smiled, expecting some sort of response from Gadera.
“Anyways, we have a work table, chemical rack, biometric suit in case you're handling something hazardous. But I imagine mostly you'll want use of the computer.”
The computer took up an entire wall, It almost seemed like old tech until Dr. Tondi explained.
“It's a bit of a Frankenstein, built on my specs, we've even been integrating some tech from Qoter. We lost all our satellites during the Shift, but in the past year we've managed to replace most of them, so this computer, allows you to take readings from all over the planet, temperature, wind velocities, thermal scans, precipitation, electro-magnetism, I mean anything! All here in one spot.” Tondi again paused, looking to Dr. Gadera for a compliment, but Gadera only winced in pain.
“Are you okay, Dr. Gadera?”
“It's just my leg,” he responded.
“Oh, the tracking chip. I'm sorry that the GI chose to do that. I tried to tell them that you're not a threat. That the only reason you left was because they refused to let you continue your research.”
“It's alright, Tondi. Let's get to work.”
Over the next few weeks the two worked closely together. Gadera slowly began to accept Dr. Tondi, and they worked on many things. They're conversations about the Shift, opened up other scientific ideas, new research and other technologies. Gadera was reminded of when he first joined the Galactic Imperium. The science department was a hub of great thinkers, and together they were going to change the world, make it better. But these memories faded every time his leg began to itch. Knowing that they were tracking him, probably listening to everything happening in the lab, Gadera soon realized that he was still just a prisoner, perhaps with a bigger cell, but a prisoner all the same.
“We have to come up with a whole new system to track the effects of the Shift,” Gadera explained one day.
“How did you track it before?” asked Dr. Tondi.
“When the disappearances were happening before, the sites had an ionized particle field, but they usually dissipated quickly. Even if they didn't dissipate, the whole planet has moved, which doesn't give us a fixed point for the readings.”
“What if we used the planets we neighbor now?”
“Like I said, the fields are gone. We'd have to find another way. But, if we did, we could use the other planets as a fixed point.” Gadera paused. “Speaking of the other planets. From what you've told me, if the Shift didn't originate on Earth, it seems that Qoter is the most likely place it could have happened. I need to visit there.”
“It would take me weeks to file for a transfer to Qoter, and you,” Tondi glanced at Gadera's tracking beacon. “I'm not sure they'd let you leave Earth at all.”
A signal rang, announcing someone outside the lab.
“Oh good,” Gadera said as he headed for the door. “This must be that extra equipment we ordered.”
However, when opening the crate, instead of finding the wave emitter he had requested, Gadera found a crate of weapons.
“What is this?” he demanded.
The guard delivering the crate looked hard at him.
“These all need to be calibrated and sent to the front.”
“This is my lab. This isn't some weapons factory.”
“This is a lab of the Galactic Imperium. You best remember that. You'll perform the tasks you're asked unless you want to go back to your prison cell.”
Dr. Tondi quickly intervened before the situation got out of hand.
“We'll take care of this right away,” he said.
The guard huffed and glared at Gadera. “Have it ready within the hour.”
“Don't worry. I'll take care of this,” Tondi told Gadera. “We normally don't have extra work like this. I guess the war must really be heating up.”
As Gadera watched Tondi work, he realized that he was adding a shield emitter to the guns. It was something they had discussed in one of their conversations, a shield that allowed things to pass through one side, but not the other. But when they discussed it it was in relation to a containment field, allowing work on dangerous experiments without damaging themselves or the lab. It seems the Imperium stole the idea. Allowing a soldier to be completely shielded and still allowing whatever he was firing to pass through.
The truth hit Gadera like a ton of bricks. The Galactic Imperium had no interest in the Shift. They simply wanted one of their brightest scientists to help with the war effort. To help crush the Aurelians and the Marauders. Gadera became dizzy and stumbled.
“Dr. Gadera, are you okay?” Tondi asked.
“I'm alright. I..I just need some water.”
“I'll get you some. Be right back.”
As soon as Dr. Tondi left the lab, Gadera sprung into action. He suspected the Imperium's intentions for reinstating him, and his worst suspicions seemed correct. In the past several weeks he had secretly built a device whenever Tondi was away. If the lab had cameras he would have been discovered a long time ago. He pulled the device from his lab coat. The device had two purposes, one was a signal beacon. He used the same frequency spectrum as he did when working with the Marauders. He couldn't be sure if they still monitored them, but if they did it would lead the Marauders straight to the weapons shipment. The other purpose was an encoded message to the Marauders. A message to let them know he was still alive. That we he was still with them. Gadera hid the device in the weapons crate. Hopefully, the Galactic Imperium wouldn't find it. Hopefully, help would soon arrive.
It appears I'm not the only scientist who kills police stations to build a lab! Great build, and a great story as well. And, I should say doctor, Im quite impressed with your studies on the shift, as I haven't had time yet to look much into them.