– Make Simon Carter more competent and less cowardly/cliche in previous scene(s)

+ After writing this scene, need to flesh out Cantano more so he’s less one-dimensional. Also maybe too early to introduce his real reasons for not liking Ramsden.


“Rewind eighty-three seconds,” Cantano said. The video playback device obeyed and rewound to the point in the video where a violet golf ball sized object is floating in front of Ramsden. No matter how many times Cantano replayed the movie, he couldn’t see how it was fake. Then again, you could do anything with special effects these days. But if it were true. . .

“Simon?” Cantano called to his assistant. The balding research scientist was typing furiously on the laptop when he paused and looked up. The SUV taking them from San Francisco to the Livermore Labs, sat idling in traffic. The wireless system installed for such lengthy events allowed Simon to continue to communicate on his laptop with the world at large. The chauffeur had the music on his headphones cranked up, that both Cantano and Simon could hear the rapid beats of heavy metal coming through to the backseat area.

“Yes sir?”

“I need two things or make that three. One I need you to have a lab examine this to see if it is fake, as in green screen or whatnot. Two I need another lab to find out what Ramsden is saying. I can barely hear the words no matter how loud I turn up the audio.” Cantano paused and watched Ramsden’s expression as the jet of water shot out and nearly hit Silvia Benton. His surprise seemed genuine enough.

“And the third thing sir?” Carter was typing furiously again. No doubt already uploading the video to a shared source so the labs could access it.

“I want someone to start asking around. If any of Ramsden’s team is discontented, especially after the loss of one of their own. Maybe they may be open to passing along some information.”

“What kind of information?”

“I want Ramsden’s notes on this portal, the leylines, whatever we can get our hands on. He is too convincing and has allies I wasn’t aware of, which is why the Council had a majority vote to allow him access to the sources he requested. I thought he’d discredit himself with the Council, but he is an exceptional talker. I didn’t dare vote against him when everyone else voted for him. So I’m left with taking his research.” I won’t just take the research, but I’ll make it my own, Cantano thought. He glanced briefly at the chauffeur, who was oblivious to the conversation as the music on his headphones had changed to rap music.

“Sir, its obvious you despise the man, though no one is sure why. But to take his research is potentially putting us in a position to break the law. It’s risky and unethical,” Simon said, concern written all over his face.

“Of course you’re right. I was just thinking out loud. That’s why I have you around; to remind me of such things.” Cantano smiled on the outside but cringed on the inside. Darn assistant was right. One of the biggest no-no’s in the scientific community is taking someone else’s research. But Ramsden in his recklessness could kill others. His recklessness must be what has always bugged Cantano. He loved his rules and protocol, but Ramsden seemed to succeed with abandon and guts alone. Cantano admired the man to be honest, but he hated that Ramsden succeeded in ways Cantano couldn’t choose for himself. No, Simon was right, he can’t and wouldn’t break the rules, thus lowering himself to Ramsden’s level. But he could be there the moment Ramsden screws up again.

“What I don’t want are any more people getting hurt, agreed?” Cantano asked.

“Of course sir.”

“God forbid Ramsden isn’t making it up and opens a portal of water like in the video somewhere in a major city. Flooding and possible injuries would ensue. The business of A.S.E.R.T is a global regulation agency for all scientific and research efforts. I’m sure Ramsden is breaking about a half dozen regulations. Have legal look through our standards and find out what he’s in violation of, then we can put a stop to him hurting anyone else.”

“If he’s in violation,” Simon stated giving Cantano a flat look. Cantano could have appointed a “yes” man to the role, but politically someone of Simon’s caliber gave Cantano more credibility. But the man was definitely annoying in pushing some points. Maybe that’s another reason why Cantano liked Simon, the man had the same zeal for rules as he did.

“Absolutely.” Cantano turned back to the video player and said, “Rewind eighty-three seconds.”

*    *    *