“Are you buying it? Because I’m not!,” Amy said as she looked at herself in the mirror in her restroom.
Something wasn’t right.
She couldn’t put a finger on precisely what it was that didn’t feel right and why.
The presentation, felt too much like a Hollywood production for it to seem real.
“You’re here to save the world and only you have shown the skills to do it,” she reflected back on.
As she lay naked on the bed still a little wet from the shower, she looked up at the ceiling fan, spinning around, slowly, as she drifted back mentally to a different time and place.
Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey
Amy was young.
Maybe 10 or 11.
She was laying on her back in the back of an airboat from within it, watching the fan blade blow lightly in the wind.
“Why does everyone else’s boat have a propeller and yours has a fan on it?,” she said.
Her uncle, in his New Jersey Game and Fish Department uniform, pulls a device out of the water, and glances back at Amy.
“Because we respect what lives under the water,” he said back at her.
He sighed at the reading he received.
“You’re going to have to plug your ears, Amy.”
Her uncle reached into a small crate labelled ‘explosives’ that lay next to the captain’s chair.
As he pulled out what appeared to be a stick of dynamite with a long fuse attached to it, and lit the fuse, tossing hard to the side of the boat, Amy responded.
“Why?,” she said, putting her fingers deep into her ear, “if you respect what lives under the water, why do you…”
Water sprayed the side of the boat as it began rocking due to the impact of the dynamite in the water.
“Why do you do that?,” she said.
Fish started floating to the surface.
“When the waters become too populated with fish, the rest of the wildlife suffers. The fish will eat everything in the lake, and once the vegetation is gone, the forest around the lake suffers, and the fish themselves begin starving as disease begins to spread through the population. When people or anything eat the diseased fish, they too get sick. The lake, in a sense dies if I don’t do my job”
Amy looked at her uncle blankly, her young mind not fully understanding everything she was just told.
Her uncle could tell, as he grabbed a net and began scooping out dead fish from the water.
“There’s no balance, Amy,” he said.
At the time, she couldn’t help but wonder how nature required man’s intervention to sustain balance.
It just didn’t make sense to her.
It’s that question, like many others – which inspired her career in biology, and later, as she came to realize biology was focused on the investigation of what were assumed to be fixed natural processes but her interests lied in change.
As her uncle said.
But as she put it to her colleagues.
She returned to the fan above her bed.
There was something absolutely fishy to the offer, as she laughed out loud at the reference.
But here it was.
An opportunity to have all her debt paid off.
Which was already standing at 140 thousand US Dollars by this point, where a Master’s degree and a Bachelor’s in Marketing on top of that would easily double that amount. Working in pharmaceutical sales, she’d be working for several years to alleviate the debt and would struggle just to make ends meet at first.
That struggle. Would no longer be there.
And she’d be able to pursue what she enjoyed doing rather than catering to male chauvinism.
And an opportunity to understand the influences on behavioral patterns at a molecular level and to discover, for herself, why some populations seemed hardwired for disease and self destruction while others.
Such as humans.
Flourished to serve those populations.
“The perfect symbiotic relationship” she thought.
Halfway in reflection on her Uncle’s job and what she was being offered.
“I’m still not buying it,” she said out loud, “but the deal is too good not to take it.”
The next morning, she was awoken by a loud knock on the door of her apartment.
Having fallen asleep last night as she’d stepped out of the shower, she threw on and ran to the door as the knock repeated.,
It was her manager.
“Sorry for bothering you here, but I have someone I would like to introduce you to,” he said, as he waved towards the parking lot and a barely visible limousine.
“Grab your gear, we’ll drive you in today,” she said.
“Moment by moment, this just gets weirder,” Amy thought.
If she could have heard it, another little voice would have said “You ain’t seen nothing yet”
As she walked to the car, a driver held open the door.
As she stepped inside, the car, she was utterly surprised to see Bill Gates sitting in the seat across from her.
“Amy, I’d like you to meet our primary benefactor, Mr Gates,” her manager Tyson said.
Bill extended his hand out, saying “I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about you, Ms Newton”
“And this, sitting next to him is,” Tyson continued before he was cut off as Amy grabbed the man’s hand and shook it vigorously.
“Mr Medina! Oh my god your research has changed the way I look at the human mind, I am so, so…”
John Medina smiled, “It’s our pleasure, Ms Newton, really, you’ve taken my research and taken it to levels I’d never imagined.”
Mr Gates looked at the door expectantly, as Tyson stood there, and looked at Amy.
“Ms Newton, do you mind if we take you on a detour before taking you back to your current place of employment?,” Bill Gates said matter-of-factly to her.
Amy was still regaining her composure.
“Um. Sure,” she looked at her manager with an obvious air of nervousness.
Bill looked to the open door.
“We’ll meet up with you at the research facility, Mr Tyson, we have things from here,” he said.
It was the first time in the several years she’d worked with him that she saw her manager humbled.
It felt absolutely surreal, as the door closed.
“From what we’ve come to understand, you have some reticence about coming to work with us?,” Mr Gates continued as he motioned his hand to the driver who proceeded to drive out of her apartment complex.
Amy was speechless.
Had she known she’d be involved with people of this caliber, had she even known they were out there ‘lurking’, she’d have jumped at the opportunity without looking back. But this changed everything. Absolutely everything.
“Ummm. Well,” Amy began to stammer.
“Composure, dammit Amy, get yourself together!”, her mind screamed at her.
Amy couldn’t get over the fact that she was sitting in a car with the world’s wealthiest man, let alone another man who she attributed to being single handedly responsible for helping her get over her own depression and inspired her career choice.
“Being honest, I had planned on saying yes this morning, but I didn’t believe the gravity of the situation was as dire as I’d been told so I found my own reasons to agree,” she stopped, biting her tongue to force herself not to continue and to come across sounding petty by divulging more.
As the car drove down the 51 freeway they discussed trivial things, both Bill Gates and John Medina, a world famous molecular biologist who’d specialized in genetic influences on the human brain and associated mental disorders, discussed Phoenix, her work there, her career and life aspirations, but both of them remained tight lipped about their involvement.
The car turned off the freeway near the campus of Arizona State University, on University Rd, as Bill Gates looked at Amy and finally tipped his hand.
“Amy, what we’re about to show you is covered under the nondisclosure agreement you signed yesterday. You’re not to discuss what we are about to show to you to anyone, including your superior, Tyler. And for future consideration, we work by something called compartmentalization, if anything is presented in private settings it’s not expected to leave the circle of those present without explicit authorization from whoever a primary or in charge of the gathering,” he said.
Butterflies were turning in Amy’s stomach.
Something felt decidedly not right about the situation as the limousine turned to a driveway she’d driven by hundreds of times before off of McClintock and University in Tempe, Arizona, where a discrete sign to this massive facility which looked like some sort of refinery which read a cryptic and nondescript “Ocotillo Modernization Facility”.
“I’ve always wondered what this place was,” she said.
The two men looked at eachother, smiling simultaneously.
The gate to the place opened up, and as they passed the threshold, they came to a stop at an inner perimeter with men in BDUs armed with M16s guarding the entrance to.
Amy noticed the air had grown slightly darker as they had passed through the threshold from the first gate to the second one.
Yet there was no cloud in the sky and nothing obvious making it appear darker.
Bill Gates rolled the window down on the right side of the car as one of the armed guards walked up to the window.
“Mr Gates, Good to see you again,” he said as he looked at his clipboard, “Is this Ms Newton, and Mr Medina, I’m sorry I almost didnt see you there.”
“Good to see you again Corporal Stanley,” Bill Gates said, “We have our badges, do you have one for Ms Newton?”
Corporal Stanley looked at his clipboard, “I.. Yeah, Give me a moment,” as he walked back to the guard shack, and then back to the open window “Here you go, have a good day sir,”
“You too, Stanley,” Bill Gates responded, taking the badge and passing it to Amy.
Corporal Stanley flagged ahead as the gate lifted.
“Corporal Stanley, can you give us a moment before we cross the perimeter, I’d like to prepare our passenger,” Bill Gates said.
“Sure thing, sir, just proceed on your own accord,” Stanley responded.
Amy’s creepy feeling was about to be validated.
“Amy, have you ever watched Star Trek?,” Bill said to Amy.
“Sure, who hasn’t?,” she said.
“You’d be surprised,” he responded. “As we went through the first gate, we passed under something referred to as a holographic cloak, which keeps this entire area masked from view by satellites or any other visual mechanisms which might be used to see what’s going on in here. The shadow formed because of this cloak’s effect on light, a very little of it is still reflected. In military terms, this is a classified and top secret installation, in civilian terms, it simple means it’s hidden and any attempts to publicly unveil we have a pretty good system in place which debunks it and if necessary questions the credibility of those attempting to discuss what’s really here. I need you to be aware of that before we cross the inner perimeter. There will be no discussing any of this with anyone. Period., The ”
Amy was a little miffed. She’d respected the NDA she’d signed, and didn’t understand the security measures being taken.
But she played along.
“I agreed to the terms of your contract,” she said, anxious about where they were taking her.
“As for Star Trek,” he said, “We estimate about 200 years ago, a space faring vessel fell to Earth, and crash landed here. In 1969, a single occupant was discovered in a previously impenetrable section – he was – for lack of better words – in a form of cryogenic stasis”
Amy smiled, broadly.
“Yeah, so what you’re telling me is we have an alien somewhere and the remains of a UFO,” she said, smugly.
Bill Gates smiled.
“Well. Not exactly a UFO. Driver, please cross the threshold and stop,” Bill Gates said as he waved his hand forward.
As they crossed the threshold of the inner perimeter, the car came to a halt, when Bill Gates opened up the door.
The shadow grew just a little more.
In front of the car, about half a mile away, was the unmistakable saucer section of.
“Oh dear God that’s the Enterprise. The USS freakin Enterprise,” she said.
At a 45 degree angle, it’s saucer section still embedded in the ground, towering above the desert, and behind it was the well preserved wreckage of the rest of the vessel.
Even in it’s wrecked state, it looked to be a mile long by a quarter of a mile in height.
“This can’t be real,” she said, “It just can’t be real.”
Bill Gates motioned for her to get back into the car as she struggled with her thoughts.
“Mr Gates, I don’t know why you need me here for this, what is this – what am I, I just don’t understand,” she said, clearly overwhelmed.
“Amy, Please just hold the questions until after you’ve seen him.”
That question was answered about 15 minutes later as she stood in front of a lifeless man who looked somewhat human with machines for appendages.
Something inside her screamed “Run now, as fast as you can, get as far away from this place as you can”
But she couldn’t.
As she stared at a real life Borg.
Which appeared, for lack of words, frozen in time.