Tom Swift and His Megascope Space Prober

BOOK: Tom Swift and His Megascope Space Prober
5.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub






This unauthorized tribute is based upon the original TOM SWIFT JR. characters.

As of this printing, copyright to The New TOM SWIFT Jr. Adventures is owned by SIMON & SCHUSTER

This edition privately printed by RUNABOUT © 2011





"TOM! Someone has stolen your invention!" gasped Bud Barclay as he scanned a news story on the front page of the
Shopton Evening Bulletin
through the plastic cover of its streetside rack. Tom Swift, a crewcut blond youth who was Bud’s closest friend, looked over in astonishment.

"Stolen my invention?" Tom echoed. "Which one?"

The pretty dark-haired girl standing next to Tom also looked over. "Yes, Bud, you must be specific. Tom has
so many inventions to steal, you know."

The last member of the strolling foursome, Tom’s blond younger sister Sandra, giggled at her friend Bashalli’s ironic remark. "What
the latest one anyway? I’ve sort’ve lost track."

"Your new machine for fooling around with molecules,
" Bud continued with a humorously rankled look at the two girls. "Look, here it is on the front page."

Tom approached and leaned down to study the article. "Hmm! Well..." Dropping in some coins he pulled the newspaper from its rack and began to read, flipping to an inside page as the others waited expectantly.

"What does the headline say?" Sandy asked Bud.

"Something like,
French Scientist Goes Swift One Better With Matter Machine
," was Bud’s reply. He added disgustedly: "Pretty typical pot-stirring from our pal Perkins." Dan Perkins, editor of the
, had long had a somewhat strained relationship with Tom Swift Enterprises, where Tom and his father developed their renowned inventions. He had proven himself quick to report the advances and discoveries of Enterprises’ presumed "competitors."

Tom read the story with growing excitement, commenting aloud for the benefit of the others. It stated that Roland Galaspain, a French engineer, had developed a revolutionary method of manipulating certain of the fundamental properties of matter. Details of his invention were not given, but a demonstration would take place Monday of the following week in Paris, to which scientists from all over the world were being invited.

Bud pointed. "No details—but that photo sure shows a gizmo like the one you were showing me just yesterday! And the basic idea sounds like the same deal!"

"Quite a coincidence," Tom murmured.

"Coincidence my hat!" snorted the black-haired flyer angrily. "You perfected the same kind of machine just a few days ago, Skipper!"

"Bud does have a point," Bashalli said softly. "When lightning strikes twice, you have to wonder about it. And run for cover."

Tom nodded. "I know. But lightning sometimes
strike twice, guys, and this Galaspain fellow might have thought it up himself. But I’ll ask Harlan what he thinks when I come in to work tomorrow." Harlan Ames, a former member of the Secret Service and the chief security officer at Enterprises, had dealt with many instances of theft and espionage at the high-security Swift installation.

The four friends were taking a relaxed stroll down Shopton’s Commerce Avenue. They had just taken in an early-evening movie and were headed toward a restaurant down the block. In the distance they could see the reflections of the setting sun on Lake Carlopa.

"This is enough to spoil a person’s dinner," Sandy grumbled. "Bud and Tom finally manage towork us into their labors-of-Hercules schedule, and now

Bud broke the mood with a sudden grin. "Don’t fret, ladies—
still have an appetite."

Tom’s sleep was troubled by questions that night. He drove to work early the next morning, waiting in the spacious office he shared with his father for Ames, who had the adjacent office, to arrive. Soon he was engaged in spelling out the story as the lean older man listened attentively across his desk.

"I read the story myself, yesterday," Ames stated. "But I didn’t think a whole lot about it. You say the man’s invention resembles your own?"

Tom nodded. "Very much. Of course it’s true that the science dictates the engineering on things like this. But the photo shows certain details that strike a little too close to home."

"All right. But just what
this new invention? What does it do?"

"I call it a matter translimator." Tom smiled at the wry expression on Ames’s face as he encountered yet another opaquely-named Tom Swift invention. "The ‘
’ part comes from ‘sublimate’—the phenomenon of solids turning directly to gas without a liquid phase."

"Like with dry ice?"

"Uh-huh." The young inventor explained that he had devised a scientific means of changing the state of matter without heating or cooling, or altering the ambient pressure. "In other words, a piece of metal could be liquified without melting it, or water could be turned to ice without freezing it. It uses a variation on the matter-lens technology we developed for the space solartron."

"I see. Now, boss, tell me how such a thing would be valuable enough to be bait for a thief."

For a moment Tom was quiet and thoughtful. "Harlan, I pretty much work up these inventions for the fun and the science—plus the personal challenge. But ultimately the translimator could have all sorts of applications in materials engineering. If we could find a way to stabilize what it produces—right now ‘solid helium’ lasts about three nanoseconds outside the receiving chamber before falling apart!—all sorts of unexpected super-technologies could come over the horizon."

"All right, then," said Ames crisply. "So in the long run it has tremendous potential. The supposed ‘inventor’ could peddle it to any number of manufacturers."

"Yes, or perhaps lease it out in some way and collect fees."

"Which leads to the next all-too-obvious question, my friend. If the French version is stolen, how did they do it?" The security chief looked grim. "Where’s the leak?"

Tom shrugged. "I’ve gone over and over the whole thing in my mind. I just don’t see how it’s possible. This isn’t a case where some rogue employee could be acting as a spy. I’ve never allowed the blueprints or guide-models out of my sight. At night it’s all locked away in the security cabinets."

"Which only unlocks for someone with Tom Swift’s DNA. And of course, the patrolscope radar system should reveal any intruders on the plant grounds. It had
after all the money you folks spent improving it since the last time it let us down!"

Tom laughed. "Right. But despite all precautions our thief might have stolen one of the improved deactivator amulets. Or come up with a bootleg version despite all our copy-defeat gimmicks."

"Let’s try another tack. What about tapping one of your computers?—remotely, maybe."

"Not possible. I haven’t put anything about the translimator in my daily journal, since we know that isn’t completely secure. I haven’t used a server or network of any kind, internal or external."

"Then what about the physical hard drive on your lab computer?" Ames speculated. "You do a lot of computer-assisted design. You must save your work."

"Sure. But I save it all directly to a removable hyper-density chip, which goes in the secure cabinet like everything else." Tom pointed out that even the very slight radio-pulses caused by his keyboard strokes and mouse movements—which conceivably could be electronically monitored from a distance—would be blocked by the special coating of the lab’s walls.

"Okay, Tom. You’ve convinced me."

"Yeah," Tom responded ruefully. "And you know what, Harlan?
convinced that I’m

Troubled and uncertain, Tom left the administration building and hopped into a nanocar, one of Enterprises’ electric micro-jeeps. Seeing Bud on one of the moving ridewalks, Tom invited his pal to join him. When they reached a modernistic glass-walled building of striking design, Tom braked to a halt. Inside was his private design laboratory, crammed with the latest in research equipment. This was where the matter translimator had been worked out, and where the prototype model Tom had demonstrated to Bud—constructed within its secure walls—had been thoroughly tested, then immediately dismantled.

"Guess I should have used the underground lab," Tom fretted. "But it’s set up for testing, not design work."

it you think there might be something to my suspicions—
," remarked Bud with raised eyebrows and a hint of friendly irony.

The boys sprinted to the lab, where Tom beamed an electronic key at its reinforced door. The door swung open and Tom approached the row of safe-like security cabinets, built directly into the thick wall. He touched the DNA-reader pad next to one of them, and its covering panel slid aside. "Pal, if something’s missing, you’ll have to scrape me up from the floor!" Tom muttered to Bud.

Tom hastily ruffled through a sheaf of blueprints, sketches, and printed data sheets. He picked up several of the oblong data chips and read-off their classification index numbers. At last he sighed with relief.

"Nothing missing," be announced.

Bud, a tall muscular youth who, like Tom, appeared no older than 18, glared at the mass of papers. Then he shook his head, unconvinced. "Then mystery isn’t solved, Tom—it’s
! I still think there’s something fishy about that guy coming up with the same invention! And I know you do too."

Securing the cabinet, Tom gazed off into blank space, a worried expression on his face. "I’ll admit I’d like to have a look at Galaspain’s machine."

Bud snapped his fingers. "Hey! Wait a minute! Didn’t that news story say scientists from all over the world were being invited to Galaspain’s demonstration? So that includes you. Right?"

"But Dad and I haven’t received an invitation."

Bud thumped his fist angrily on the laboratory workbench. "
your answer, pal. Tom and Damon Swift are two of America’s most famous scientists. I mean, genius boy, you’re practically a brand name! If
rated invitations, you both did—which proves Frenchy wasn’t taking any chances on being found out!" Tom conceded the point, and Bud continued stubbornly, "If Galaspain stole your idea, I intend to find out."

Tom looked quizzically at his friend. "That’s great, flyboy. So how? It looks to me like we’ve hit a dead end."

The young flyer grinned back. "Dead end? No such thing! I’ve already put a plan together. I’ll contact the guy for an invitation to his big show and hop over to Paris. And don’t think I won’t fire plenty of questions at him! It’ll make him nervous. Maybe he’ll panic and confess the whole thing right in front of the news cameras."

As Tom looked on skeptically, Bud picked up a pad and roughed out an e-cablegram to be sent to Galaspain. It read:






Tom burst into laughter. "What, no Ph.D. after your name, President Barclay?"

Nothing more was said. But unbeknownst to Tom and his father, Bud did send a message to the French scientist, having found a contact address on the Internet. He stated that he would like to bring the famous Swifts to the demonstration. During the next two days, Bud checked his home computer frequently. But no reply from France was received. Lotta nerve, he grumbled to himself,
blowing off a message from Tom Swift’s best friend!

Saturday evening, as the Swifts were enjoying a week end at home, Bud dropped in for a brief visit. He discussed the Galaspain mystery with Tom and his father in the den. "It does seem odd," admitted Mr. Swift, to whom Tom bore a striking resemblance.

Bud now told them about his emailed message. "Galaspain paid no attention. What’s more, I called ten different people around the country from Rafe Franzenberg’s list—outstanding American scientists, all of them—and not one of them has received word one from the guy."

"Evidently he doesn’t trust anyone from our country," said Mr. Swift soberly. "One wonders why, hmm? But national pride plays its role in science, as in everything else. We’ve been on both sides of it at Enterprises."

As Bud started to comment, Tom interrupted him by suddenly bolting to his feet from his chair. "Good night! I just realized― "

Mr. Swift looked alarmed. "What is it, son? What’s wrong?"

"I—I think
the cause of the information leak," replied the young inventor. A stricken expression had settled on his young face. "And if I’m right, Galaspain and the others at that demonstration are in terrible danger!"


BOOK: Tom Swift and His Megascope Space Prober
5.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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