Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
Miguel Jarvis Wong had lived on three continents before the age of thirteen, and been a trouble-finder on all but the first. To this day he doesn’t know exactly what his father did for a living, only that it meant making home in more rundown areas than on military bases. His mother did her very best, but Miguel was his father’s son, clever and opinionated from an early age. That precociousness transmuted into arrogance after this father died, then drowned in guilt at the manner of his mother’s passing. Standing over her grave, he swore to do better with what he had.
Twenty years later, Professor M. Jarvis Wong straightens up from the lectern, waving his hand to send the displays from local holographic projection to the screens that dominate the arena.
“My father drilled many things into me. One of the useful ones was the concept of ‘intelligent searching’. Which, for my long-suffering students, results in my demands that they seek at least two independent sources for every fact.”
A surprising number of the younger audience nod with resigned familiarity.
“On a higher level, it made me sceptical of research after the theory. When you go looking for things that support your theory, it can lead you to ignore potential discoveries because they don’t fit with what you expect. I believe that you should take what is, then explain why and how. From that belief came the reason for my latest tranche of papers: just because we can’t detect it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
He nods and waves his hands placatingly.
“Yes, I know I’ve been framed as the crazy scientist looking for faeries and ghosts. I’ve been accused of wasting grant monies better spent on conventional research, and have lost valued colleagues who became disenchanted with my aims.”
A bearded man stands and waves a fist toward the lectern: “You’re an egotistical lunatic who should be rejected by the scientific community!”
Miguel points at the man.
“Your work on the detection of anomalous energy effects in inanimate materials was one of the foundations of today’s presentation, Henry.”
The bearded man sits down, shaking his head.
“While I acknowledge the value of Professor Daldene’s input, his reaction is also a reason for today. The demands for something of substance from my work have reached a point, where, to be blunt, I have to ‘put up or shut up’.”
There’s scattered applause, along with shouts of “about time” and “fraud”.
Miguel gestures to the screens about the arena.
“What you see on the screens are simplified explanations of that work. Now, before we progress, I have to admit that today’s discovery came about by accident. I was looking for a way to detect the human soul. I’m still doing that, but what I had been working on was the wrong approach. What I found instead,” he pauses, “is this.”
A dozen huge lights come on, bathing the arena in an eerie off-white glow. There’s laughter that swiftly dies away. Screaming starts.
Miguel extends a hand to rest against the gigantic, scaled head that rests next to him on stage. A stage that many had said was ‘barely big enough for his ego’ is now filled with something that looks a lot like a very large dragon.
“This is Kresdall. He is the First Envoy to Humanity from the Nineteen Realms. Other races of which I gather, from the loud reactions, have been spotted amongst you in the audience.”
He nods to Henry.
“Let us see who and what is rejected, shall we?”