Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tahoota Berries for A ll

Dear Darwin,

This letter should reach you long before I make it back to the Rosewater mansion in New York but I fear that it will reach you too late.

You see, Lady Rosewater sent me down to Antarctica to fulfill my final duties as Project Director for plexybutanol-hydrate-cosmostic
-matterum extraction. I expected to merely deal with the usual paperwork, staff evaluations, and discussion of pay increases—tedious work—when a sudden overwhelming feeling of dread and physical inadequacy flooded my brain. In situations like this, I repeat a specific mantra, practice my knife-throwing, and test my hormone levels for any abnormalities. The feeling later went away. However, the next day, the same feeling returned, followed by a terrible ringing in my ears.

At first, I feared that this painful ringing sound was a result of a space shuttle accident in 2006. It was during a routine takeoff that my earplugs literally fell upwards, thus allowing the deafening roar of the rockets to rattle inside of my ears for several days before falling silent once again. No, this was entirely different.

Only after drinking a concoction of Tahoota berries and vodka was I able to determine the origin of the ringing sound and the unwelcome feeling of inadequacy. I followed the origin of my pain to the radio in our break room. Someone was broadcasting a high frequency encrypted message to the only music station available to us in the Antarctic. The message was broadcasting each morning at 10:00 a.m. This happens to be the same time that our workers gather for their second cup of coffee. I immediately recorded the message and called Talullah Fink, our marketing assistant and encryption genius. At first she heard nothing, but after ingesting the Tahoota berry drink, she was able to decipher its meaning.

You see, the Satellite Army was at it again. This time, instead of relaying our top secrets to their top brass, Mme. Vicaduer and her colleagues were now attacking us in small information packets over the radio. We were not being targeted on a conscious level but instead attacked in the manner of suggestion. I am too embarrassed to tell you just how long our people were being affected and to what ends but you may see some strange mail-order purchases on our accounting sheets due to the power of these suggestions on our staff.

In addition to being forced into needless purchases, our security team viewed but could not interpret the satellite traffic that you described in your earlier letter. They watched but were physically unable to report on the bumper-car satellite spy fiasco until it was too late. As you said, we are very lucky that the opposition lacked the skills to properly wire the stolen satellite.

At least now we know how Mme. Vicaduer and her cohorts were able reach our mining operations without detection. You see, after the Cold War, we were under the impression that subconscious attacks via radio was an obsolete instrument of war. But, barren life in the Antarctic made our scientists vulnerable to such an attack. Now that the old rule book is open and on the table, we are on the lookout for more dirty tricks from the Satellite Army.

This may happen again and I hope that I am not too late in warning the Periwinkle camp about this new psychological form of warfare. I recommend that you assign someone to monitoring all radio stations and ask your staff to ingest the Tahoota berry at least once a day. Even one berry could break the spell, as we like to say.

On a positive note, we have already filled three warehouses with our mined materials. But you are right to worry about phase two of our plexibubble project. We need to go back on the offensive, even if this means another delay. I hope the sultan will understand.

Yours truly,
Anastasia van Orange

Monday, January 14, 2008

The holidays, old enemies, and honky-tonk headaches return

Dearest Anastasia,

Again my correspondence will commence with deepest apologies because of yet another late response. You see finding holiday gifts for my many staff members is more difficult than most could ever imagine! I mean really! With all the undercover agents, theologians, astrophysicists, code decryption specialists, baristas, and the whole Sanskrit department (which alone is made up of 400 people), not to mention the Sultan, it really is a dreaded endeavor! What do you get a person who does have everything? I mean more than everything, everything plus everything? And then when your staff is made up of people from hundreds of different countries around the world, which celebrate nearly many specific, and not so traditional religious celebrations, one could honestly have a breakdown. Did you know that if you give a man over the age of forty from the Nubutoo tribe a package wrapped in red wrapping paper you are in a sense asking for his finger in marriage? And it is just the finger not even the whole hand!

Now I must apologize for my rant, as well as, my tardy response. Oh thank the firmament for Tahoota berries! Their properties of mood enhancement get me through these trying times, and they really give a bland smoothie some seriously needed zing!

But I digress. Our most heartfelt congratulations go to you and Lady Rosewater for expertly employing all of your wonderful resources for a successful extraction of P-H-C-M. Upon receiving this last transmission from you, we were able to pinpoint that your trouble with NASA detection was more than just a coincidence. We had received word that Mme Vicaduer and Mr. Butler have been working within an underground group headquartered in North Korea. It seems that they sent an unmanned rogue satellite with surveillance equipment to spy on you and your extraction endeavor.

It is not clear how they were able to access this highly top-secret mission information, but they did. Fortunately for us the satellite, stolen from military storage base in Dublin, had wiring issues and wasn't able to transmit any information from the site near Saturn. Navigation controls were also faulty on their device, which resulted in various collisions with various government owned weather satellites.

As result of these new developments, and with various international investigations being opened regarding the origin of Vicaduer and Butler's bumper-car satellite misadventure, we must move ahead very cautiously. This is necessary for two very important reasons. The
plexybubble trials are so classified that we don't want any traditional governmental agencies digging for information. Secondly, after obtaining the remnants of the rogue satellite, we found an audio file on the secondary navigational computer that was very interesting to me.

It was a yet unreleased country song embedded with even more top-secret information. This proves that not only is this horrid honky-tonk headache not yet eradicated, but that it may be Vicaduer and Butler, who are actually behind it all!

Anastasia, the Periwinkle camp needs to find out from you if it is safe to continue with plexybubble trials right now? Is it too unsafe?

I feel both our camps have been infiltrated in some manner. What security information have you uncovered as of late? Can you shed some much-needed light on this very very dark time?


Darwin Whitecrest

p.s. Happy Holidays

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Extraction Update for Darwin and the Sultan

Dear Darwin Whitecrest,

I read your last letter with shock and horror. When your childhood should have been an experience of bountiful heaps of learning and adventure, it was instead a murky labyrinth of adult deception and possible free fall into the abyss of genetic manipulation. I don't mean to address you romantically when I write that my heart skipped a beat when I imagined you in so much danger. You were very lucky to have your Clair Clementine.

Although our current space station near Saturn is entirely operated by robots, I am told that once I step down from my current position in our joint venture, a new team of humans will need to spend 3-6 months on the station itself. The cloaking mechanism needs to be overhauled. Perhaps you will volunteer for the position of project director? This could be your chance to recapture your youth.

Before I stray too far from business matters, I would like to provide you and the Sultan with an update regarding the extraction of the Plexybutanol-hydrate-cosmostic-matterum.
** ** **
Extraction date: October 25-27
Location: Rings of Saturn
The extraction yield: 2.5 tons of matterum
Time: 72 hours of continuous mining activity

Summary: For the most part, extraction of the plexybutanol-hydrate-cosmostic-matterum was a success. However, operations were cut short during a routine telescopic surveillance sweep by the NSA. Our sources tell us that they suspected some sort of spy activity in the region, and were looking for foreign satellites of every kind. We are unsure as to why they would suspect spy activity in this part of the solar system. The NSA, needless to say, doesn't know about our work. However, they might have picked up some unscrambled transmissions between Julius, the Director of Artificial Intelligence at our base in Antarctica, and his favorite robot named Mort. They enjoy certain games of rhetoric and if Mort is ever recalled to Earth, we may enter him into the university debating circuit. We are very proud of his progress.

As for our near discovery by the Cassini-Huygens mission, this was easily averted. As it happens, one of our new marketing assistants for hair products, confections, and space operations is a whiz with Photoshop as well as the detail-oriented work of intercepting and manipulating transmissions between NASA's probes and land based research institutes. Remind me to keep Tallulah Fink on the payroll.

The materials are en-route to Earth where you can coordinate with my teams in Hawaii for the transportation to your refining plants.
** ** **
Lady Rosewater and I would very much like to experiment with the plexibubble properties once you have completed another prototype. We are eager to unlock secrets to its cellular rejuvenation.

Darwin, we may still succeed at this joint venture. A few things still will not let my mind rest. What did your country music spies uncover? What has happened to the rogue spies, Mme. Vicaduer and Mr. Butler? The Satellite Army is still planning their next move.

Best regards,


Monday, November 12, 2007

Recollections of a Dangerous Youth

Dearest Anastasia,

I do offer my sincerest apologies for my tardy reply to your most recent letter. I have been busy detaining many country western singing stars and have been able to completely stop the espionage once detected. Although, the calluses on my thumbs from the banjo show no sign of relenting!

But back to your previous letter! I must admit that your detailed explanation of such glorious lunar endeavors have been on my mind since I first read about them. And I do so incredibly appreciate how horrid your snags must have been, but selfishly I found myself transported back to my younger days. I have been preoccupied with my childhood dreams of overseeing my very own space station.

You see at the time I was enrolled in the top secret NASA Enrichment Program for gifted tots. I have been overwhelmed by vivid memories of calibrating solar analysis systems, lunar specimen filters, and comet ice trail collecting modules. Can you image a better way to spend your pre-school and kindergarten years? Oh, and what a blow to my tiny formative ego when I was pulled from the program! It is both this joy and trauma that I have been fixated on as of late. You see my father's dear assistant Claire Clementine was hacking into NASA's mainframe to check on a grade I received for a simulated flight sequence test I was given. It was a “blind-landing” Mars simulation, touchdown, and then subsequent quick departure test sequence. You had to execute all commands and module programmings blindfolded within a fourteen minute span. You see Dear Dear Ms Clementine had helped me study for it and just couldn't wait for the results to be posted. Anyway, upon her covert hack she uncovered my perfect score, and an embedded document. This document outlined in great detail the true mission statement for the formation of the very organization that I was so thoroughly enjoying. It was not pretty.

It seems that NASA had plans of sending me and my classmates on real missions, which I would have been all for in all honesty. Looking back I can see the dangers involved. And what four year-old isn't going to jump at the change of careening through space unattended by nannies or bodyguards? However, we were all unaware that tiny children, tiny hands, and overly evolved brains in tiny heads (although my head has never been tiny) meant covert operations could be carried out faster and more frequently than simply using robotics and computer enhanced nanoprobic systems. With no care for our wellbeing NASA planned to keep us up in space permanently where growth would be stunted. We would therefore become workers. No longer budding scientists, but space station servants! Working our tiny hands, that would never grow any larger, to the bone! It seems that they planned to fake a crash upon reentry, faking our deaths, and giving our parents the notion that we were gone forever. Ms Clementine stopped all of that and certain NASA officials disappeared from the program and the planet I might add.

Oh childhood! Oh childhood conspiracies and scandals! Ripped from the joy of science and stars to an unknown fate! The pain is as fresh as any of Sultan Perriwinkle's hot lemon tarts he makes on Bastille Day for all the agents and assistants.

As we know nanoprobic systems are simply the bees knees now, if you will allow me to get giddy this once. Tiny humanoids are almost never used for space upkeep, and nanoprobes have been crafted for defense throughout the years. I personally have been using them for decades in our antiserum trails with our agents and staff. It seems that no matter how many times a dark element or secret agency tries to poison our camps the nanoprobic infused olives save lives! Science is a marvelous thing when you realize that all of the olives produced in the world have been laced with nanoprobes that fight newly developed concoctions of poison used by these unsightly regimes. Any time I find myself even with the slightest, most minute, near fluttering of malaise coming over me or just the general feeling of being unwell I go into action! I make a very cold, very dry, very LARGE martini with three olives. I drink the martini and then consume the olives. And upon doing so I feel as the world is right again. To me, in my life as of late, I find that all things come full circle. I also find that time passes faster than I ever realized before. And although I wish it would slow down. Suddenly, I find that a wish is not enough!

Urgently and with strict fiery fierceness I ask you: Do you remember the findings that plexibubble does not age, breakdown, or decompose, but that it seems to get younger? A distinction that was made by one of our scientists years backs? I wonder if we could harness this quality and potentially unlock keys to time travel or at the very least cellular rejuvenation? I realize that Lady Rosewater herself has the most knowledge on such information, of turning back the clock and what-have-you. Anastasia do you think it is time to go forth with such investigations? Please do give me your thoughts!