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Endeavour’s Fall #27: The Ricker Manuscript

Jun 18, 2017





No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.

-Lord Isaac Newton, PBUH


 Sam examined the book carefully in his hands.  It was handwritten in a green bound ledger of some kind.  The tight penmanship was broken up with drawings and diagrams.

 “I have to ask,” said the Professor, “who are these parents of yours that are raising such bright minds to investigate the mysteries of Newton?  I understand if you don’t want to say, but I can assure you my loyalties are true.”

 Sam paused.  “I … I would rather not.”

 Adams said, “It’s alright, Sam, you can trust Professor Beecher.”

 “Maybe you can, but I am not sure who to trust,” said Sam.

 “Certainly, I can see how you might be protective of your family,” said the Professor.  “I have entrusted you with something.  Perhaps someday you will return the favor.”

 “This book?” said Sam.  “What is it?”

 “This manuscript was a gift to me.  Of course, if I knew that it contained descriptions of forbidden experiments, I would be obligated to destroy it.”  He looked at Sam knowingly.  “The College does not condone such things, with or without Inquisitors peering over our shoulders.”

 “Who wrote it?” asked Sam.

 “The author claims to be a certain Ricker, but that could easily be a pseudonym.  I received a copy of this work years ago from a very interesting student.  Originally studying to be an Inquisitor, as I recall.  This volume was a gift, in exchange for some help of a more practical nature,” said the Professor.

 “What kind of help?” asked Adams.

 The old Professor paused, deciding what to share.  “That story can wait until another day.  Everyone needs a hand sometimes.  The student helped us with a great deal of information, in exchange for a bit of help disappearing.  The book has rested here for some time waiting for a particular type of mind,” said the Professor.  “One like yours, young man.”

 “I don’t think so,” said Sam.  “What do you mean?”“You take this book.  The author has unraveled many secrets already, but with just a little attention and care, I think you could bring amazing things to light.”

 Sam looked at the book.  The manuscript pages did not look that old or too faded, and they were discussing amazing experiments.  Experiments of the kind that Newton himself had performed.  Was this what the Inquisition was hiding?

 “It is too dangerous for me to do anything with this now.  If I were to give it to a student, it would quickly be traced back to me. But you, lad, are going to disappear into the night, aren’t you?  With this book, you could help our friends in the Revolution.”

 “That brings us back to the reason I am here,” said Adams.

 “Indeed it does,” said the Professor.  “I would be surprised if the Inquisition has left any of its tradecraft, wrecked or not, within your reach.  However, if you can piece together what is in that book, you will not need to pick up the crumbs of the Star Chamber and its goons.”

 Sam was still studying the manuscript.  He had already found an old print he’d never seen before.  It was an old picture of Ben Franklin very different than the ones he’d seen of him in his textbooks.  He still had the three-corner hat and small round glasses, and he was flying a kite as in most pictures, but he did not look like a heretic or miscreant at all.

 Hanging from Franklin’s kite was a key.  Scrawled on the page opposite was a familiar symbol.  A capital “F” balanced on an “O”.  After a moment, Sam recognized it.  It looked like the sign he’d seen scrawled on posters in Switch.  The one Emma had thought was a key.

 “What does this mean?”  Sam held the page of the manuscript out. 

 The Professor shrugged.  “That lithograph is of Franklin using a kite and key to draw down lightning from the sky,” he explained.

 “I’ve never heard he used a key,” said Sam.

 Adams smiled.  “You can’t believe all you read about Franklin these days.”

 The old Professor also smiled.  “Many are attracted to that key simply because the Inquisitors now find it so distasteful.”

 Sam thought about that for a while in silence.    Was this the same symbol Sam had seen on those posters in Switch? Was that why someone had scrawled it on a poster?

 Adams and the Professor kept talking.  Sam fell back the text of the experiments again. Before he knew it, the sky outside the window was starting to light up. 

 “Come on Sam, we have to go!” 

 The Professor stood by the open door.  “I am sorry again about your young friend.  That particular patrol should not give you any more trouble, and any trouble about last night will no doubt be blamed on him.”

 Adams grabbed Sam by the shoulder before he could ask more about Jack.

 The Professor said: “I recommend that you do not stay around to see the sights of our fair city.  And perhaps you’d best take your airship out of sight as well.”

 The two airmen slipped through the dark streets and back to the open common area.  They could see the dark shadow of Endeavour overhead.

 “I thought you told Norris to get out of here!” said Adams.

 “I had to leave before I could tell him,” said Sam.

 “Well, I suppose we can discuss it later.  If we get out of here safely, that is.”

  Adams lit a pair of signal torches while Sam kept watch.  Soon, light flashed overhead and a familiar rope dropped nearby.  Adams grabbed it and tugged once.

 “Get us out of here!” yelled Adams as soon as she landed in the loading dock.

© J. O. Evans 2017. All Rights Reserved.