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©Ian Rodgers

"Professor Aldwin? Are you in there?" A young man in a tweed suit pushed open a glass door that lead to a scientist's lab. Several desks lay around, with mounds of scrap metal, blue prints and various food wrappers heaped on them.
"I am over here, Intern Johnson." An elderly man in a starched white lab coat sat at one of the cluttered desks, his back to the intern.
"You know I don't like being called an intern. How about assistant or even aide?" Johnson walked over, holding some envelopes in his hands.
"I call it like I see it. Anyway! I finished my newest invention! The Parallex!" The elderly professor stood up in triumph, holding a small, matte black orb with a single silver button on it over his head.
"What does it do?" Johnson asked, making space on one of the desks for the mail.
"It alters the fabric of reality, allowing the user to travel between dimensions! More accurately, it shifts from one dimension to another!" Professor Aldwin placed the device carefully back onto the desk.
"Does it work?" Johnson asked, skeptical.
"I don't know."
"Excuse me?"
"I don't know! When the Parallex activates, it automatically corrects any paradoxes. Hence, the user and the world around him do not realize they have shifted realities." The Professor walked over to the mail, and looks it over.
"I see...anyways, Professor Aldwin, the Global Organization for Scientific Inquiry has sent you another summons." Intern Johnson pulls out a large envelope with bright red words spelling out "Urgent" on both sides. The Professor grabbed it and then threw it onto a desk nearby.
"Those GOSI morons just want to steal my ideas! Steal my inventions! They've been trying for years to get their hands on my Cool Fusion Power Generator and take all the credit!" Professor Aldwin began to rant and rave, and Johnson started to edge away.
"I'm going to get a soda. Do you want one?"
"Sure, whatever." Professor Aldwin sat down and began mumbling to himself as he looks over the rest of the mail. As Johnson closes the door behind him, the motion stirs the room a bit, and the resulting gust of wind flings an envelope at the Parallex, bumping into and clicking its silver button.
The rough wooden door is gracelessly opened by the booted foot of Johnson. He made his way in, holding two heavy flagons of ale.
"Here you go, Alchemist Aldwin. Your ale." Johnson placed the large drinking vessel on a nearby desk, covered in all sorts of tomes, quills, and scraps of paper.
"Thank you, Squire Johnson. Much appreciated." Alchemist Aldwin sipped at his drink as he looks over a hefty book.
"So, do you really think your invention, this Parallex, works?" Johnson asked,as he looked at the small black orb with a silver button that lay next to several odd apparatus.
"Of course the Parallex works. We just don't know when it does!" Aldwin said, rolling his eyes at the ignorance of his squire.
"Seems like a design flaw, don't you think?" Squire Johnson asked, pressing the point like a spear to a wild boar.
"Perhaps, but so what! People thought it was stupid to make a powder that exploded when heated, but now they use it in their newfangled cannons!" Alchemist Aldwin stood up again, and straightened his robes. "Someday my inventions will be accepted!" Squire Johnson just stood and nodded, while sipping his ale. A thought occurred to him.
"Alchemist Aldwin, I heard rumors down at the pub that the Kingdom of Gosi has begun to mobilize its army. Do you think there will be war?"
"Of course there will be war. Just like there will be Summer after Spring, or drunken fools in a bar. But I did receive a letter from the Kingdom of Gosi. They demanded that I help build weapons for them. But I refused! Let some other man build for war. I want to build for the aftermath of such things." Squire Johnson was a bit surprised, but silently pleased as well.
"So, do you want another ale? I see you are finished with that one." Alchemist Aldwin looked down at his empty flagon, and chuckled a bit.
"Why not? Make it another round for me and you! And then we can try and create a new way to use Minotaur dung!" Squire Johnson laughed, not entirely sure if Alchemist Aldwin was joking, and turned to the exit, slamming the heavy wooden door behind him on his way out. Alchemist Aldwin sat back down, unaware that the slamming door had shaken the Parallex, and it now wobbled over close to the edge of the desk, and fell, landing on its button.
The blank metal doors slid open with a barely audible "whoosh" sound, and Ensign Johnson rushed into the room, carrying a tea tray with two small cups, and a startled look on his face.
"Master Technician Aldwin! I've got bad news!" Technician Aldwin looked up from where he'd been messing around with some gadget on his stainless steel desk.
"Slow down, you'll spill the tea. Is it Algondian blend? I do so love their flavors." Technician Aldwin looked at Ensign Johnson with a bemused expression as the latter swept some data-slates and star charts off a nearby desk to place the tea tray.
"Tea is not really important right now! The Gosiian Collective just warped several battleships into our sector! The local defenses don't have enough weapons or ships to stop them!" Ensign Johnson was practically shouting, his fear obvious. Technician Aldwin stood up so fast that several things in his lap went flying across the room, striking the far wall.
"Alien bastards are after my technology! I suppose I should have known when I found a Gosiian spy-drone outside my window last week..."
"We need to get out of here! We need to get to a shelter while local government contacts the military! And then wait behind several tons of reinforced battle-steel and mega-crete!" Ensign Johnson scurried around the room, and gathered up what he thought would be useful items, while Technician Aldwin went about at a more leisurely pace.
"Why aren't you panicking?!" Ensign Johnson demanded, as Technician Aldwin looked over some notes on a desk.
"The Gosiian fleet will not reach us immediately. We have a good day before their ships reach the planet. Also, it's my policy not to run or rush. You get crappy results with both." Ensign Johnson made a noise somewhere between a high pitched squeal and a grunt, and grabbed Technician Aldwin by the hand and dragged him out of the room, causing them to bump into several things on the way.
The Parallex, innocently forgotten by both, wobbled a bit on the floor, then rolled around and hit its silver button on the edge of a table.

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