Summary: Andrew’s mission to right a grave wrong leads him to the town of Eureka.
Disclaimer: Andrew and all things Buffy come from Joss Whedon. Eureka, and its residents, come from the brilliant minds of Andrew Cosby and Jaime Paglia. Technobabble is mine, and I apologize for its inaccuracies.
Andrew double checked the map Willow had drawn for him. “Are you sure you’re not trying to kill me?”
There was an awkward pause on the other end of the phone line. “Don’t you think if I was trying to kill you I’d find a better way to do it than give you bad directions? Besides, this whole mission was your crazy idea in the first place.”
“I notice you didn’t deny trying to kill me.”
“I’m not trying to kill you, cause newsflash: killing is bad for my kharma.”
“Or so you say.”
“Fine, you know what? If you don’t believe me, just turn around and head back here. I don’t care.”
“But that would be against truth, justice, and the American Way!”
“What do you want me to say? All my spells say Global Dynamics is just on the other side of that gorge.”
“Willow, can I call you back?” Andrew stared as the dilapidated broken wooden bridge flickered and a squirrel ran across the supposedly empty space. He hung up the cell phone and slipped it into his knapsack. “Holy hologram, batman.” He whispered as he shifted the Council’s loaner Prius into gear.
“Hello and welcome to Café Diem; I didn’t think GD had a new class coming in until next week.” Vincent greeted the young man who had just entered the café.
“Oh, I’m not part of the new class. I’m just in town for a special project.” Andrew patted his knapsack.
“Ah, a project.” Vincent smiled knowingly. “Well, I’m Vincent, and I can make any recipe you can dream up. Wanna try something new?”
“What about a hamburger?”
“Oh.” Vincent deflated. “Just a hamburger?”
“Well, um, you can add cheese.”
“What kind of cheese?” Vincent started perking up. Perhaps he could flex his culinary muscle with a little bit of cheese mongering trivia.
“Melt-y cheese?” Andrew shrugged as he settled onto one of the bar stools. “And fries?”
“You sound unsure. How about I surprise you?”
“Well…” Andrew glanced around. There were only a few other patrons in the restaurant at this time of day, but they all appeared to be happy with their dishes, so it couldn’t be too bad. “Sure, as long as it’s a burger-ific surprise.”
“Gotcha. Here, have some birch beer while I go get that.”
“Oh no, I can’t drink.”
“It’s like root beer, only, perkier. It’s my own special recipe. Try it; you’ll like it.” Vincent set the soda in front of Andrew and headed off to the kitchen.
Left to his own devices, Andrew turned around to observe the other patrons at the restaurant. So far this trip had not been going according to plan. He had tried going to Global Dynamics directly, but the multiple layers of security guards would have been a tough barrier even if he had Doctor Who’s psychic paper, which he clearly didn’t. After that, he had tried wandering around the town for an hour or so, but got the feeling that everyone was watching him. Deciding he needed a break, he had wandered into the café on Archimedes Street to regroup and come up with a plan to find his target. In the café, there appeared to be a group of identical twin-triplets… what was the word for six identical things?… playing chess in the back corner. There was a group of young boys busy recreating the Mount Arecibo sonar dish using straw wrappers in one of the front booths while their mothers appeared to be discussing the taxonomic relationships of homeopathic remedies for the common cold at the next booth over. The most animated group was the four adults sitting around a table in the middle of the cafe. Two were clearly police officers while the other two wore suits. Andrew eavesdropped on their conversation while sipping on the birch beer.
“Oh come on, surely you thought that was strange.” The sheriff laughed.
“Well,” the woman in a suit looked like she was about to chuckle.
“It was clearly a security breach, and we acted accordingly.” The man in a suit straightened his tie.
“You’ve got a point there. Someone hacking out of Global Dynamics is almost as dangerous as someone hacking in. I’m just wondering where Dr. Klaus managed to find that many electric typewriters. There’s something not right about that.” The deputy mused.
“Yeah, did you sign off on the purchase order for that one?” The sheriff chuckled.
“Dr. Klaus is a well respected primatologist whose studies on group-think and peer pressure in developing societies are landmark papers.” The man in the suit huffed.
“Come on, Nathan, you’ve got to admit, it’s rather funny.” The woman offered.
“Yeah, what were you trying to do, Stark? Recreate Shakespeare?”
Andrew perked up at the name. So that was Nathan Stark. Vincent interrupted his musing by setting a plate down in front of him. “Here’s your burger. I’ve added melted gruyere, avocado, sprouts, and a wasabi mustard sauce. The fries are actually jicama based because I find them healthier and crispier than potatoes. What do you think?”
“Um, looks good?” Andrew offered. It did look good, and he was half tempted to just enjoy the burger, but he was on a mission. Who knew how long this opportunity would last. “Is that Nathan Stark?” He whispered to Vincent.
“Yeah, you haven’t met him yet? You really are new in town.”
“I’m just going to go over and say hi.” Andrew slid off the bar stool. He fished a glove out of his knap sack before approaching the table, feeling more nervous than ever, at the sight of the two law enforcers at the table.
“Newbie, ten o’clock.” Jo, the deputy, muttered as Andrew approached the table. Nathan swiveled around in his chair to face the new arrival. “Can I help you?”
“Um.” Andrew started turning red.
“If this is about the internship in my office, I’m afraid the position is already filled.”
“No. I… I…”Andrew stuttered.
“And no, you can not see my Nobel Prize. Sorry.”
“It’s okay, spit it out. Stark’s not going to bite you. And if he does, I’ll lock him up.” The sheriff offered with a friendly smile.
“I just bet you would.” Nathan Stark muttered.
Andrew took a deep breath, then slapped his glove against Nathan’s cheek as hard as he could. Thwap!
“Wha’ was tha’ abou’?” Stark rubbed his jaw in confusion. The others at the table seemed equally bewildered, and in the sheriff’s case, amused.
“I am calling you out as a rapscallion, sir!” Andrew stated.
“A rapscallion?” The woman in the suit asked.
“Yes. I assert that you threw out data that should have been included in your 1989 paper that lead to your Nobel Prize. As a matter of honor you should recant your prize. As this is a matter of honor, I am willing to duel you to first blood.”
“First blood?” Deputy Lupo smirked.
“Well, it’s a bit drastic to duel to the death over data, don’t you think?” Andrew turned to her.
“And just who are you?” Nathan shook his head in disbelief. Eureka had its share of eccentrics, but none of them would go so far as to start a duel over data… then again, maybe they would.
“Andrew Wells.” The boy answered.
“Do we have a …” The sheriff muttered to the deputy. “Already checking,” the deputy glanced at her cell phone, “And the answer is no. No Andrew Wells cleared for Eureka.”
“Well, Andrew, did you know that you are currently standing on classified soil and that it’s a federal offense to trespass in this town?” Nathan smirked.
“Wait, I’m curious. What do you mean, he threw out data?”
“Oh no, don’t encourage the tourist, Allison.”
“This could be important, Nathan.”
Andrew latched on to the sympathetic face and addressed Allison Blake. “I mean that the organization I’ve worked for has tried to replicate his quantum mirror work and we consistently get different data.”
“As I have never heard of you, Andrew Wells, I doubt whatever organization you work for is technologically savvy enough to replicate my experiments.”
“You threw out every value outside of the normal quantum range, thus leaving out the ghosts.”
“Ghosts?” The sheriff inquired.
“Yes, incontrovertible proof of ghosts. Nathan Stark had the means and opportunity to prove once and for all that there are spirits on the other side, and instead, he repressed the data!” Now that he had gotten past his opening salvo, Andrew thought he was really on a roll.
“Is this true, Nathan? Did you throw out data?”
“No! No, I… Well, there was the preliminary data, but that was while I was still calibrating the equipment, and so what? Everyone throws away outliers. Besides, what those values would prove would be evidence of electronic memory in muon particles. That’s not proof of ghosts.”
“Wow, Nathan. Did you at least keep your back-up notebooks?” Allison asked.
“Of course, I kept all my lab records, but I’m telling you he’s crazy. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and I’m not going to duel him for my Nobel Prize. I won it fair and square.”
“It’s proof, and you’re covering up! This whole thing stinks of a government conspiracy to downplay the importance of magic and animus- that’s spirits, you know- in the modern…”Andrew’s rant was cut short as Deputy Lupo jerked him up off his feet.
“What was that for, Jo? He was just getting started.” The sheriff grinned.
“Point or not, he has no clearance to be in Eureka. We need to follow procedures.”
“But I haven’t finished my lunch.” The sheriff glanced down at his empty plate. “Nevermind, let’s book him.”
“What?! But we haven’t dueled!” Andrew asserted. “I’ve accused him of scientific misconduct. He should at least have the decency to respond.”
“Nathan Stark and decency are not commonly paired concepts. Come on, kid.”
“Should I wrap the food to go?” Vincent called after the trio heading for the police jeep.
“How’s the burger?” Sheriff Carter asked the boy behind bars.
“It’s great. I wouldn’t have thought about mixing wasabi and avocadoes.” He said between bites. “I’ve got to tell Dawn about this place.”
“Actually, no, you can’t.” The sheriff sighed.
“Well, one of the conditions of letting you out is that you have to sign a confidentiality agreement not to share any information you learned while in this town.”
“But, I have to tell Willow, she…”
“No, really you don’t. Make something up if you have to. You can’t tell her.”
“Why? Are you going to cast a truth hiding spell on me, so I have to be this place’s secret keeper?”
“What?! No, no truth whatever spells. It’s just that the D.O.E. and D.O.D. take pretty hard lines for prosecuting anyone who talks about Eureka to the outside world.”
“Hrmph. That’s not as effective as having a secret keeper.” But then, things were rarely as effective in real life as they were in Harry Potter. Andrew sighed.
“So far the threat of time in a federal penitentiary has been effective enough.” The Sheriff tried to keep his opinions on Andrew’s sanity to himself.
“I suppose.” Andrew sighed. “It’s just so frustrating. I know he left out data, and its important data.”
“Well, now Allison Blake knows about it as well, and if you want I’ll tell Henry to look into it.”
“The town mechanic.” The sheriff grinned as if in on some big cosmic joke.
“Well, okay, I guess that’s okay.” Andrew shrugged and munched on another jicama fry.
“ANDREW!” The cry echoed through the Council’s headquarters before the boy even had a chance to drop his bags.
“Did you miss me?” He perked up a bit. He had wondered on his two week cross-country drive whether everyone would forget about him when he was gone, so it was nice to see at least one person still remembered his name.
“What did you do?!” Willow screeched.
“You must have done something! Ever since you went to Global Dynamics, we’ve had a non-stop barrage of hack attacks, and I swear they must be organized by a bunch of chimpanzees.”
“Um, I never made it to Global Dynamics.” Andrew admitted.
“Well where were you? The tracing spell showed you in the same place as Nathan Stark.”
“I was…” Andrew remembered his confidentiality agreement just in time “… abducted by aliens.”
At this point Dawn and Xander quit their game of checkers to watch the ensuing argument.
“No, you weren’t.”
“Yes, I was. If you’d watched the X-Files you’d know that all the aliens hang out in the Pacific Northwest.”
“Andrew, you were on the tracing spell the entire time. You weren’t taken into any spaceship or any underground lab or any alien devices.”
“Yes, I was. I was abducted by aliens and they gave me a hamburger with cheese, avocadoes, sprouts, and this weird wasabi sauce. You should totally try it, Dawn.”
“Wasabi on a burger, hmm.”
“Oh, but I can’t take you there, because, hello aliens. They’re so not into bringing visitors to their burger café.”
“Andrew, you weren’t abducted by aliens.” Willow tried reasoning with him again.
“Yes, I was… and if I wasn’t, I couldn’t tell you where I was.”
“In other words, he got lost.” Xander smirked.
“Think what you will. Only I will know the truth.” Andrew tried for a maniacal laugh, but it came out as a hacking cough.
“Oh forget about it.” Willow threw up her hands and stormed back up the stairs to her computer room.
“Oh, hey, Andrew, you got some mail.”
“Yeah, so avocadoes, wasabi, burger, hrmm. Sounds green, but not healthy, interesting…” Dawn mused as she handed the letter to Andrew.
There was no return address on the envelope, but as soon as the clipping from Letters to Science fell out, Andrew knew who it was from.
Update to Stark et al. (1989)
Recent discoveries have prompted us to pose an addendum to the 1989 paper on quantum mirror dynamics. With the invention of more sensitive equipment we were able to pick vibrations on the 230 zeptometer frequency. This residual energy may indicate a type of electric memory in charged muon particles. Future explorations of quantum mirror phenomena should include measurements at both the femto-meter and zepto-meter resolution.
-Signed Nathan Stark, Henry Deacon, and Douglas Fargo