Part Nine

"Itís glass."

"It canít be glass, not with that reaction!" Sydney kept her voice even, tamping down the frustration that dogged her. "Look, Pete, it threw a fork across the room with an arc of electricity. Glass canít do that!"

The bald black man shrugged. "Well, itís definitely glass with an attitude. See, normal glass is an insulator. In plain language, it blocks the flow of electrical energy. This little bugger, though, for reasons I canít explain, is an electrical conductor. No, actually itís an amplifier. Very, very cool, but very dangerous. You get anywhere near any significant electrical source and you are toast." The young scientist picked up the disk for a closer look. His fingers were safely wrapped in rubber gloves. "My guess is that it grabbed a charge from the battery of Mr. Baileyís watch, and amplified it a few hundred times. Maybe a few thousand times."

Nigelís condition supported the theory. Besides badly blistered fingers, Nigel sported a circular burn at the site of his now-defunct watch. There were lesser burns trailing all the way up his arm, reddening the flesh up to his elbow. His hand and wrist were covered in gauze to protect the wounds. According to the doctors, he had some small patches of third-degree burns, too small to warrant skin grafts but large enough for a very real risk of infection.

The chemist whistled absently. "This is a pretty early piece of glass. Hand blown, for sure, and some extraordinary workmanship. Itís the earliest thing Iíve ever seen, in fact, and Iíve seen some pretty early stuff. The grain and style suggests it is middle ages or maybe even earlier, probably European."

"Yeah, think Merlin and King Arthur," Sydney remarked. "The runes are supposed to be the key to finding Merlinís journal."

"Merlin and King Arthur? Sydney, you gotta be kidding. Theyíre just mythology." Peteís fingers were dark even through the thin surgical gloves. He turned the disk, appreciating it for its value as an antiquity and a work of art. His muscular arms emerged from a thin white tank top, giving him an aura of power. "I have to admit, though, this little piece of quartz does defy physical law. I mean, quartz is an element in modern machines, so it makes a sort of sense. But this machine doesnít obey natural rules at all."

Go to Part Ten.

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