Back to Shopton
Willow Rosenberg woke up in her bedroom of the small company apartment she shared with her best friend Buffy Summers. They had just flown in from Sunnydale two days ago, arriving at the Shopton airfield well after dark. Buffy had been doing the flying of course, as Willow was still learning to handle the twin-jet Pigeon Elite. She considered the small prop driven Pigeon Special to be more her speed to be honest.
Buffy was a natural pilot however, trained by Tom and Sandy Swift who were both legends in the aviation industry and incidentally, Willow's and Buffy's bosses. Both the young women had spent the previous summer as interns at Swift and Son Industries or SSI as it was generally known, Willow as a technical specialist and Buffy as a pilot trainee. In the first few weeks however, they had managed to get involved with a terrorist from Tom's past and more than that, help defeat his fiendish plot!
Now they were college students. Buffy was starting out in aeronautical engineering and Willow in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Both of them would be attending the State University of New York Shopton campus which was, because of its close working relationship with SSI, one of the finest engineering schools in the world.
Both of them had work-study jobs at SSI as well. Willow in the prototype fabrication labs, and Buffy as a company pilot and assistant without portfolio as Tom put it.
Willow yawned and stretched and rolled out of bed to brush her teeth. As she passed by the living room of the apartment she saw Buffy doing her morning routine which at this point appeared to be far too many handstand push-ups.
"Morning Buffy," Willow yawned in response.
"There's coffee in the pot and when I went for my run I stopped off and picked up doughnuts...even the kind with sprinkles," Buffy said cheerfully, not hesitating in her push-up repetitions.
Willow smiled, "Thanks Buffy," she replied and she meant it too.
"Anything to keep that big brain powered. Looking forward to working in the plant again?"
"Yeah. I really am. I can't wait to see Phil and Tom and Harry and Abe and..."
"Well yeah, as long as he doesn't spring one of those oddball ideas of his as a recipe."
"I actually liked the cactus soufflé..." Buffy said sadly.
"You and Chow were the only two I'm afraid, who did."
"Anyway," Buffy said, "You need to shower and get dressed so I can shower and get dressed while you're drinking your coffee. We can't be late for school.!"
"Half day of classes, half day at SSI. This is going to be weird."
"It'll be different at least. Look at it this way Buffy, you've already learned a lot of the reasons planes fly by flying. Picking up the math should be simple."
"So says you! My brain is full of other things than math...like lip gloss shades and other important stuff."
Willow was still laughing as she started her shower, Buffy was far smarter than the air-headed cheerleader she sometimes pretended to be. A lot of things had found that out, most of them far too late for their own safety.
After Willow had finished Buffy rushed in. Willow got dressed and had a couple of doughnuts and some coffee. The doughnuts with sprinkles were her favorites.
By the time Buffy was ready it was time to go. The pair walked downstairs and hopped in one of the driverless vans that SSI use for transporting their employees. Waving their ID bracelets over the sensor, the two women told the driving expert system the name of their destination and then settled back to enjoy the ride.
Shopton in late August was lovely with clear blue skies and bright sun. The van even traveled for a short distance alongside Lake Carlotta before it pulled into the university campus. The women disembarked and headed to their respective classes. At one they met up again and Willow spoke as if in to thin air, "Dispatch. Van for two at SUNY Student Union."
"You really like that thing don't you?"
"The Little Sister? Yeah, it's really neat," Willow was referring to the semi-implanted communications device behind her left ear.
"As long as it doesn't get hacked..."
"Hey Tom fixed that, and now with the Alpha Filter, it's impossible to Mind Ride anymore."
Buffy grinned, "I know. I just enjoy watching you get defensive."
"Why don't you get one Buffy?"
"Same reason I can't have pierced ears. I heal too fast and it would just get pushed out."
"Oh, I never thought of that."
"That's cool. It's just not really a problem most people have, so naturally they don't do the thinky thing about it."
The two women chatted about their classes and their homework until the van arrived. Boarding it they were whisked away to the gigantic SSI facility.
It had four runways each capable of handling the space shuttle. Along with one of the most sophisticated Air Traffic Control towers in the world.The plant was covered with research buildings, workshops, hangers, garages, warehouses, and manufacturing. It even had a police and fire station.
The van pulled through one of the employee only gates and headed onto the ring road that encircled the plant. After a short drive it pulled up in front of a building that would have looked futuristic in the 1960s. Now it simply looked a little out of place. It would never be altered though because it was Tom's personal office and private lab.
"Willow! Buffy!" a tall thin youngish woman with long white hair called out to them.
"Phil!" Willow yelled as she ran over. Phil or Phyllis Radnor was the assistant chief of security for SSI. A second generation Swift employee, she had been a Philadelphia police officer and detective before returning to work for Tom. She was also a close friend of both women.
"Hi Phil," Buffy, "Is the genius in his lab or the office?"
"Lab I think. I take it classes started and you're here for at least the next semester?"
"Hopefully," Buffy laughed, "if my brain doesn't absorb calculus faster then Willow will be stuck here all on her lonesome."
"No Oz?" Phil looked over at Willow. Oz was her boyfriend.
"Nope, the poopyhead decided to tour this fall with his band. He'll be passing through in October though."
"That's good. I have to run these reports over to the bunker," Phil was referring to the SSI security building. "I'll see you later though!"
"You'd better!" Willow replied as she and Buffy entered the building.
Once in the lobby they checked the hazard light above the lab door to m ake sure Tom wasn't in the process of performing any dangerous experiments. It was off so they entered.
"Willow and Buffy!" Tom Swift was a tall man in his early to mid sixties with blond hair turning gray and clear blue eyes. He walked over to the women and gave each one a hug. "It's so good to see you. How was the flight?"
"Ask Buffy, I slept most of the way."
"It was great Tom, the new engine pack smooths out the power band really well."
"You noticed huh?" Tom was always probing.
"So what are you working on now?"
"This?" Tom gestured at what looked like an aquarium festooned with cables and electronic components, "it's an idea I came up with about a month ago. You remember the Insta-Rock gun?"
"Sure that's what you crippled the Black Cobra's stealth sub with," Willow replied, "It fires a catalyst causing the minerals dissolved in seawater to precipitate into stone."
"Exactly, I'm trying to make a version that doesn't use chemicals and only affects the ferric content, the iron, in the water."
"How does it work?"
"Let me show you..." Tom stepped beside the tank and aimed a small antenna at the water. There was a golden glow and gray crystals started forming and sticking together into solid lumps of metal.
"That is really neat," Willow said.
"I think so too," Tom answered proudly. "This is just a simple test bed though, so don't expect girders yet."
The three stood and watched the lumps enlarge then Tom went to shut down the device. Suddely there was a fat blue spark and electricity began arcing all across the lab ! Trapping the three where they stood!THIS IS A DISCLAIMER!!!
BtVS Property of Mutant Enemy Tom Swift jr. Property Stratemeyer Syndicate not me!!!