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Rated: E · Short Story · Sci-fi · #991642
Sean shares the Eldorado puzzle with Cal
The clicking of computer keys and whirling of fan blades were the only sounds heard in the engine room of the Midas Touch. Darkness separated two figures seated in front of glowing computer screens.

“Sean? I’m done here. I’ll be dreaming of ducting diagrams and emergency procedures all night long thanks to you!”

“No, thanks to me you’ll know it all when you need it. But you’ve done enough tonight, we’ll finish up tomorrow with all we can do while in dock.”

“I need a problem to solve, a puzzle to unravel, not more reading. My butt is asleep from sitting so long. Are we taking the shuttle out tomorrow? I’m dying to do something!”

“Now we just went over the shuttle this morning, what does it lack?”

After a thoughtful pause, “Regulation running lights and radar reflectors.”

“Right, were not visible to System Control in that thing and could get run over by anyone not paying attention to where they’re flying.”

Cal stretched and walked over to where Sean was reading. The headline on the screen read, “Last Tiger Dies in Seattle Zoo.”

“What’s that about boss?”

“As a kid I used to go the Seattle Zoo every free day to see the animals. My favorite was this new tiger cub that would play and swim and seemed like another funny type of kid. That summer I’d go and see him everyday even if for only half an hour. Sirkhan was such a magnificent animal and now he’s dead. And he was the last one. No other tigers will ever roam the wild, let alone a zoo. I was just trying to think if there was any possible way that this ‘extinction’ was a good thing, and I can’t.” Sean wiped away what might have been a bit of dust that had gotten in his eye.

“It’s just another thing I have no control over Cal, but in this world money allows freedom to do what we want. Right and wrong are just words unless you have the power to back them up.”

“But right now I have the power to keep you from your nightmares. Remember the Golden Hind and Eldorado?”

“Yeah, you said you had a clue.”

“Right, I’ve worked on it for a couple of years and Gunter spent even more time on it, so now I’ll give it to you with a riddle first. The hold was found to be completely full of pure gold. What does that fact tell us about the source?” Sean grinned as he turned back to his desk and pulled out a piece of paper that had several folds in it and handed it to Cal.

The paper contained a long line of numbers and symbols with not a single letter.

“That was what was on the memory core of the Hind before Gunter wiped it clean. He was the only one to see it. Are you up on your orbital mechanics? Solve that and we’ll have power!”
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