Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Free Agency

Mssr. N. was at the chalkboard, illustrating the solution to a quiz problem for a group of fellow students.

"According to the problem description," he said to the young lady to his right, "Gamma is not additive - but specific heat is. That means that Cv*m = (Cv1*m1 + Cv2*m2)/(m1+m2)."

"Where's that m come from?" the young lady asked.

Mssr. N reconsidered. "Ah - yeah, it equals Cv, not Cv*m, sorry. Anyway - since we're looking for a percentage, we can set total mass to 1; then the denominator vanishes, and the equation becomes Cv = Cv1*m1 + Cv2*(1-m1). Cv = R/(1-gamma); so we get that R/(1-gamma) = R*m1/(1-gamma1) + R*(1-m1)/(1-gamma2). Then we can divide out by R, and we're left by only constant terms and m1, letting us solve - ah -" Uncertainty entered his voice. But then -

"Yes, that's exactly correct," said the class professor, approaching from behind.

Mssr. N was feeling pretty good - and that's even before the young lady inquired about his course schedule, allowing to note that he was, in fact, in another major - just taking the more advanced class for fun! Yes, Mssr. N was on the top of his game, 'high on life', as the children put it -

But then came the sound of an amplified voice, shouting from outside. "AGENT N! WE KNOW YOU ARE IN THERE! COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS RAISED, OR WE WILL RESPOND WITH EXTREME FORCE!"

The other students drew back from Mssr. N, shocked. "Why are they after you?" one asked. "Are you a criminal?"

Mssr. N froze - and then snapped into action, pulling his wallet from his pocket. "No, I'm not," he said. "The truth is, I am a student. But I'm also - something more!" With a dramatic snap, his wallet flew open, and within it appeared the card identifying him as AGENT N - Ground Operative of the Interstellar Patrol!

"Last summer, my natural curiosity led me to investigate certain things perhaps best left uninvestigated," Mssr. N related, rummaging through his pack as he spoke. "Instead of imprisoning me on some distant star, the Interstellar Patrol recruited me - "

"On some distant star?" another student asked. "But - surely that's science fiction!"

"Not at all," Mssr. N told him. "Our planet has been isolated - blocked off from knowledge of the intergalactic community to which we truly belong! The Interstellar Patrol recruited me as a native agent, to find out who would do such a thing, and what they might have to gain. But from the sound of that voice from outside - it appears they have found me!"

"That's a very strong claim - interstellar travel and world-wide conspiracies," the professor told Mssr. N. "You will need a strong proof -"

But at that moment, a jackbooted thug burst through the classroom door, armoured in black metal and wielding a long, jagged gun! The thug turned, beginning to aim toward Mssr. N - but that latter gentleman was faster to react, and at last found what he was looking for within his pack, bringing it forth and unleashing it! A spear of light shot toward the intruder, splitting in two just before hitting him and going in opposite-directions - then splitting again, and again, building a geometric cage about the interloper!

"Fortunate I recieved those packages in the mail today," Mssr. N observed. "The Interstellar Patrol provides indeed. But now I need some way to escape - "

"You can't just fight them?" another student asked. "We could help -"

"I only have one of these," Mssr. N said, waving the implement which he had just employed to such good effect, "and only one gun. And I cannot count on these being the sorts of thugs that have never learned how to aim -"

"What's the hurry?" the young lady earlier learning about the gamma now inquired. "That one guy you imprisoned is blocking the door - "

"That would be fine if the only way in or out of this room was that door," Mssr. N said, now drawing from his pack a serrated, faintly glowing triangle. "But it is merely the only door."

"What?" the young lady asked, confused. "The ceiling vent?"

"Think simpler," Mssr. N advised, shooting through the rear wall; a thug lurking on the other side flew backwards, flaring with yellow-red light around the edges. "And get down!"

Mssr. N followed his own advice, measuring his own length upon the floor; the quicker-witted of his classmates followed suit. And a good thing - for moments later, beam-fire shot through the room as the thugs in front shot their way through the front wall; the shots that hit the caged thug reflected wildly, killing two of the villains and setting a nearby tree on fire. But Mssr. N was surrounded - for now thugs came in from the back, as well, setting up a deadly crossfire. With his geo-cube, Mssr. N established a sort of shield around himself, firing with his spare hand - but it was only a time before the thugs' continuous firing refracted their way through his defenses. The other students were fleeing, injured, dying; or dead. The young lady's eyes stared at Mssr. N endlessly, no longer having need to blink...

And to think, Mssr. N's day had been going so promisingly just moments before!

(Don't worry. Mssr. N eventually escapes by stalling the thugs long enough that the police arrive, forcing the thugs to retreat rather than be seen. Of course, then he has to explain what, exactly he was doing in the centre of the fiery devastation that was once Warren Lecture Hall 2208...

But it's okay! He's Mssr. N! He'll make it out all right.)

1 comment:

Buffy said...

I was kind of enjoying this, until so many people died. Could you not somehow reverse time a little, so that N could leave, drawing off the thugs so that the innocent students don't get hurt? Think about it.