Chapter 5.

11 Feb

Tinok Psychonews transmitted accounts of current events every hour. Between those broadcasts, it made available information of general interest. If one needed documentary reports, there were daily ephemeris sheets from that company’s printing plant distributed about the metropolis.

Quio entered the busy city room and asked to see the science editor. A copy secretary pointed him toward an isolated hogwood desk where a brawny man with rusty short hair and colorless pale eyes sat in contemplation, a large notepad open before him.

“Mr. Shan Dene?” asked the newcomer.

Quio introduced himself, giving his name. Dene recognized it at once.

“You have appeared in the news,” said the latter. “Aren’t you the one who aspires to fly off to other planets?”

The visitor nodded that he was. “It is not as foolish an idea as it seems. In time, that kind of journey will become frequent and common. Space will not be a permanent barrier for people.”

“If that is so, why hurry to build a vehicle now?” asked the other.

“I believe there is more reason to begin now than anyone supposes. We will only delay the final achievement if we procrastinate today. Progress forward must start at once with whatever is now available. That is the only way for us to advance. You must see me not as a speculating dreamer, but someone quite different. Let me explain why I came to see you.

“I am announcing a public challenge. Let anyone who does not believe such a voyage possible accept the invitation I hereby make to a public debate, in any forum or at any time. I am prepared to argue with the pessimists who deny it can be done. We shall battle toe-to-toe and see who wins in the minds of the public.

“That is what I want Psychonews to transmit, a challenge to my foes.”

Shan Dene placed his right hand on his chin as he made a decision.

“Nothing could be easier. It will go out at once, within the next hour.”

Quio took two steps closer, until he stood at the edge of the editor’s desk.

“I have another request to make, one that I hope you agree to fulfill.”

“What is it?”

Taking a deep breath first, Quio made his request.

“I wish to ask anyone who has a propellant fuel or the formula for one to bring it to me. That person shall receive adequate, suitable compensation for it, if the substance works as claimed. I do not care who the source of the fuel is. We will cooperate in its practical application to transportation. There will be a solid partnership with that person.”

“Wow!” exclaimed the journalist. “That is a very tall order, may I say. Very tall.”

“Will you do it for us?”

“Of course, I am willing to do what I can. Your program is a bold one, but not foolhardy. In my estimation, the scheme is within the realm of the possible. If not you, then someone else will do it one day.

“So, I am willing to do my part to help this plan along. In fact, I intend to take positive steps to locate the fuel that you need. What do you think of that?”

The editor gave a loud, cracking laugh as he stood up and moved toward the visitor.

After the two of them shook hands, Quio excused himself and left.

Shan went to work at once in the reference files and memory records of Tinok Psychonews. He wanted to find out what the prospects were for locating the fuel that Quio was after.

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