AUTHOR AND PUBLISHER FORWARD
Ed never wanted to be a hero. At best he isn't comfortable being an embodiment of a new age of exploration. He has turned down an amazing collection of famous biographers and chosen to place his life story in the hands of his younger brother. As his brother, I always stayed out of the news and away from the paparazzi because I am not Fringeworthy. But now my young son has tested positive, and when he chooses to join his uncle out on the Fringes, I would like him to have these journals.
I always was a fan of the exploits of the Fringeworthy, from the days of the first news stories, and the fact that it changed our world so much and brought peace to us for the first time. I corresponded with David Powers for a number of years, after Ed granted Tri Tac the RPG rights. As a publisher and writer I felt privileged to hold this manuscript in my hands when I was offered this first volume for publication. This is the real story of a hero, as opposed to the cheap hollywood fictionalizations and knockoffs.
Sayuri Tanuma, dressed in a well-tailored suit, sat before the United Nation‘s Security Council, reading from a prepared statement. Halfway through her speech, the place was near pandemonium.
“That is why,” she went on, ignoring the ruckus. “The only way we can prevent total anarchy and war not only here on Earth, but also on the Fringe, as the popular press calls it, is for the United Nations to step in and help Earth present a unified face to the new worlds.
“We must unite. We are too few to work against each other. I‘m one of those few. I don‘t know why. I don‘t know how. But I am Fringeworthy. One of the very, very rare humans that can enter and explore this new frontier. And we must do it as a unified force.
“To borrow a phrase from Gene Rodenberry, we must ‘boldly go where no man has gone before.’ And, I repeat, we must do it together.”
The U.N. sat in full session when they passed the resolution to form the United Nations Interdimensional Agency. UNIDA, as it became known. Delegates listened to their translators as the ambassador from Libya made his final statements.
“All of Libya rejects this move by the United Nations. We will not allow foreign troops to occupy our sovereign homeland.” He paused to look around, knowing the effect his next words would have. “At this very moment, explosives are being placed in the cave where the ring station was found in my country.”
Wild shouts and comments came from every direction. Every other ambassador tried to speak at once. But the Libyan ambassador had the floor and simply waited until U.N. Secretary Ryszard Aklochut restored order before continuing.
“Other ring stations sit around the world. What the countries where those portals are located do is entirely up to them. Libya will not budge in this matter.” He paused when an aide approached to whisper in his ear. Nodding, the ambassador turned back to the microphone. “It is done. The cave is sealed off. If any attempt is made to clear the blockage, we are prepared to use measures of a more permanent nature.”
Nukes. He meant nuclear weapons and everyone knew it. Once again, the meeting went out of control.
Sayuri Tanuma turned off her television. She wished she could say it shocked her, but her predictions of chaos had come true. She only hoped that humanity would look at the abyss it now faced and take a collective step backward toward sanity. The Libyan portal was of little use--as often a not the defective ring scorched those going through it. Nevertheless, the rift made evident by the threat troubled her a great deal. Deep in Sayuri’s heart, she had faith in all of mankind. Perhaps, in the end, the Fringe would bring out the best of them.
“She‘s wonderful,” Ed caught himself saying aloud. A quick look around the cafeteria showed him that nobody had overheard. Except for his friend Alan across the table. Alan already knew to whom Ed referred.
Shaking his head, Alan pushed around the last bits of his Caesar salad. “Not again. You need to let it go. She doesn't want anything to do with you.” Glancing up, he noticed that Ed hadn't heard a word he said. Alan put a folded newspaper in front of his friend‘s face, obstructing Ed‘s view of the woman two tables away. “I see the Fringe display opens this weekend,” Alan said, trying for a subject change to Ed‘s other obsession. “You have to work it?”
Taking the paper, Ed blindly put it on top of his tuna salad. “No. They brought in their own people. Hey! She‘s reading the same article over there.”
Alan gave the object of Ed‘s attention a scornful glare. Christine Sanderson was an amazing woman to look at, no doubt about that. Her body still held the tone of her collegiate gymnastics training, and she had even finished third runner-up in the Miss Kansas beauty pageant four years ago. The problem was that she had the IQ of a shrimp"a cooked shrimp at that. Silky blonde hair, perfect figure, and a face that lit up a room when she smiled couldn't possibly overcome her vacuous mind or the cruel way Alan had seen her treat his friend.
“Look, pal, she‘s shot you down three times now. Three, Ed.” Alan waved his hand in front of Ed‘s face until his friend made eye contact. “You ask her out again and she might make good on her promise of a sexual harassment suit. You hear me?”
“I know, but—”
“No buts. Reality is reality.” Alan checked his watch and sighed. “I've got to run, Ed. Promise me you won‘t do anything stupid if I leave you here alone, okay?”
“Al . . .”
“Fine. I promise. Happy?” Under the table, Ed had the fingers of both hands crossed.
Not having much of a choice, Alan took him at his word and left Ed to pick tuna salad from the newspaper.
Timing his lunch so he finished at the same time as Christine, Ed fell in behind her as she stood in line to empty her tray. If he had just sat down to eat, he still would have got up the moment she had. Christine saw Ed and gave him a disgusted look, rolling her eyes at her friends. Their laughter felt like hot knives in his gut. Nonetheless, his discomfort seemed worthwhile when Ed caught a whiff of Christine‘s perfume and heard her voice clearly. Even if only for a minute or two in the trash line.
“Come on,” Christine practically whined to her friends. “It‘ll be fun. Really.”
Regan, a perky, dishwater blonde receptionist that worked on the fifth floor, shook her head. "I‘m not standing in line for hours on end so you can see some space rock and pick up an astronaut.”
"They‘re called Fringeworthy,” Christine corrected.
"Whatever," Michelle from human resources shot back. "Besides, the weatherman called for rain on Saturday. Count me out.”
Christine turned to her last hope, pulling on Sonja‘s sleeve like a child in the cereal aisle. "Please? You‘ll go with me, right?”
Ed knew if she hit him with that pouting face and pleading voice, he would have given her anything she asked for.
"Sorry,” Sonja said. "I have a date.”
"This takes place during the day. You‘ll be back in plenty of time for your date.”
"Chris, honey, my date with Dave is on Friday night.” She winked at the other women. "I don‘t plan on being back by Saturday!”
The other women burst into laughter with Sonja and left Christine to dump her tray.
"I . . . I can get you in." Ed almost turned to see who had said the words before realizing they came from him.
Whipping around to face him, Christine frowned and narrowed her eyes. "Excuse me?”
Ed grew warm under her gaze. Still, he surprised himself by plunging forward. "I can get you in to see the Fringe exhibit.”
"No thanks. I don‘t think I want to waste a Saturday waiting in line after all." With her tone and eye roll, Ed could all but hear the ‘especially with you‘ she mentally added to the end of that sentence.
Christine turned to walk away and Ed caught a fresh waft of perfume. He never had a chance to keep his mouth closed. "You wouldn't have to wait in line." She stopped. She actually stopped. Ed practically tripped over his next words. "I—I . . . um . . . I volunteer at the museum. Mostly computer work, but I know people.‖
Slowly, she turned to face him and put a hand on her hip. "So?”
Her face didn't have that I-smell-bad-fish look, so Ed counted it as progress in the relationship. "I could call in some favors, you see." He knew what kind of favors it would take to get into that exhibit. The kind that took an entire paycheck. Nevertheless, she had turned to fully face him and appeared interested—actually interested—in what he said! He would borrow from his next three checks if he had to. Eating was overrated.
"We could go in through the employee entrance. No standing in the rain." He could tell she was considering it. Christine Sanderson was seriously thinking about going out with him. So stunned was he by the mere chance of her saying yes, he completely missed what she did say and had to ask her to repeat it.
"I said," she started and then seemed to falter, about to change her mind. Taking a resigned breath, she crossed her arms. "I said, okay.”
"Really? You will?" Ed looked around for the Candid Camera crew.
"You‘re really beginning to freak me out, Ed. Maybe this isn't such a good idea after all." She turned to leave.
"No!" Ed sputtered. He rushed around to cut off her escape, forcing himself to take a deep breath and calm down. At least vocally.
"I mean, I‘m okay. Really." She gave him a funny look, but didn‘t immediately say no. God, please don‘t let her say no, Ed prayed.
His heart leapt! "What time should I pick you up—”
"I‘ll meet you here. At work." The idea of him knowing where she lived sent chills down her spine and visions of him stalking her through her mind. "Nine o‘clock.”
Activity set in the Tritac 'verse.
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