"Perhaps," said Merida as she looked at their project, "this isn't working because we're going about it all wrong."
"What do you mean?" Conrad looked up from where he was fiddling with the precise positioning of a component.
"This is an Aglathan construct, right? Found in its original shipping crate in the bowels of an Ordruthni pirate's loot cache with no record of where they got it, which is the only reason we got to touch it." She laid out the details and her colleagues, Conrad and Lorsch, both nodded. "Well, we've been following the diagrams printed on the inside of the crate because we can't read the script."
"Of course," replied Lorsch, the linguist. "We've identified the script groups that seem to relate to Part A, Part B, etc. That puts us ahead of where we were when we started this project. No idea if they're using an alphabetical or numerical ordering system, or how they said any of this, but we know more than when we started. Mind you, this is a simpler script form than the ones we found on the monuments over Agla and Vishaun, and before this crate those were the only examples of their writing that we had."
"That's what happens when you go electronic," pointed out Conrad, the team's mechanical engineer. "If the system goes down, there's nothing there to read. One of the reasons some of us still use hard technical manuals."
"So, the only other examples of their writing we have are on objects floating in space," clarified Merida.
"Well, yes," confirmed Lorsch.
"We've put this together thing together, well Conrad has while you've worked out words and I've made coffee and made sure that you both stopped to eat and sleep," went on Merida. The two men nodded in agreement as she went on, "but the thing doesn't work."
"Well, it's not doing anything right now," agreed Conrad. "That could be because it's not supposed to be doing anything at the moment. It could be that the instructions say clearly, "Batteries not included," but we can't read them. Not that we know what it's supposed to do."
"That's why we're way out here in the sole facility on an uninhabited, very simply terraformed world," replied Merida absentmindedly. "I considered the possibilities when I picked this place."
The two men looked at each other, looked at Merida and said, "What?"
She smiled at them. "I'm a problem solver. You two are my solutions to solving the problems this kit presents. If I want you to solve the problems, then I need to make sure that you take care of yourselves. Hence the coffee, etc."
Lorsch spoke first, "So you're the Janesset Halloran who's heading up this project? We thought that was some office type on the intermediate floors of the Administration Tower back on Hexdramir."
"I am Janesset Nethese Ramin Merida Toolony Halloran," she agreed. "I am heading up this project, and my office is a glorified broom closet on HLevel 2." Conrad interrupted with an appreciative whistle. "What I was working up to is that we know that at least some Aglathan technology interacts with gravity."
"Planck's Object and the Ximeta Cascade." Conrad nodded. "Yes. What are you driving at?"
"Could we have been looking at the instructions upside down?" Merida let the question hang there.
Lorsch looked at the ceiling thoughtfully and said, "We could have been, of course. Because we were following the diagram the actual assembly would have been correct but perhaps it doesn't work upside down?"
"That's certainly possible for any number of reasons," confirmed Conrad. "I can turn it over with the handlers, if you give me a couple of minutes."
"Please do," Merida nodded. "We'll stand back well out of the way, with the crate. Come on Lorsch." Merida operated the controls of the trolley under the alien shipping crate as she and the linguist made their way to the far side of the workshop and the protective wall that ran much of its length.
It wasn't a big object that they'd put together, the components had come in a crate the size of a military personal trunk, and the remotely controlled handlers turned it over easily. The handlers set the device down on the floor and moved away. The three members of the team looked at it expectantly.
Nothing happened for a few moments, then some panels and visible components began to glow.
Conrad joined the other two behind the safety barrier. "That seems to have worked," he said. "Now, what does it actually do?" The machine rose gently into the air to table-top height. "I hope we're not going to have to turn this off in a hurry."
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