Dragonflies: Shadow of Drones
them little to no attention, except to nod slightly at Murnell as they approached the large door. On the wall was a small display panel with the screen at eye level. Murnell turned to look directly into it.
    “Dr. Lance H. Murnell, P-Q-1-2-7-5-B-4-4.”
    Facial and voice recognition no doubt–Murnell continued to stare into the screen. But Raina also got the distinct impression it might be more than just a computer looking back at him, perhaps even, at the two of them.
    “What have you got going here, Murnell?” she asked.
    The large door began to slide silently upward along its track and the Homeland Security scientist turned back to her with a sardonic grin. “Welcome, Ms. Sanchez” he said with a sweep of his hand and a slight bow. “to the Yellow Brick Road.”
    The door opened wider to reveal a gymnasium-sized space with huge, reinforced rafters overhead and darkened walls of the same type of material as the hallway they’d just traversed. But it was what stood at the center of the space that immediately drew attention. It was a sphere, maybe ten feet in diameter, anchored to the floor with large struts and what she guessed might be hardened power and communications conduits. The surface of the sphere glowed green but also looked to be at least partially transparent.
    “What is it?”
    “Come and see,” he said.
    They stepped through into the cavernous room, the large door silently closing behind them. Raina pulled her gaze from the sphere to look around. There seemed to be no one else but them in the entire space. Murnell was like a kid in candy store, egging her on, apparently eager to share with her what no doubt was probably in part his creation.
    Drawing closer, she made out what appeared to be a small door in the side of the sphere and a pilot’s seat inside.
    “Is it some kind of a ship?”
    “More like a cockpit.”
    “Where’s the rest of the craft?”
    They circled around to the door in the side.
    “Hold on. You’ll see.”
    There was a metal ramp leading up to the door. Murnell climbed it and pulled the hatch open. Raina held back for a moment.
    “You coming?”
    “Yeah.” She clambered carefully up beside him.
    “Go ahead.” He was holding the door open for her.
    “You first,” she said.
    He shrugged and climbed through the hatch into the sphere.
    She grabbed the door from him as he went through, feeling its polished, hyaline surface. It was room temperature, neither cool nor warm. “What material is this thing made of?”
    “Sorry,” he said from inside the bubble. “That’s beyond classified. I’m not even sure I understand all of its structure myself. But what it can do…come on inside and I’ll show you.”
    She’d come this far. Why not?
    She stepped through the hatch into the sphere with him.
    “Reminds me a little of the old bubble canopy helicopters,” she said.
    “It does, doesn’t it?”
    The curvature of the floor made her feel slightly unsteady. There seemed to be no access ramp or step to the single seat.
    “This is still a prototype, not yet fully operational, and we’ve yet to add a few of the finer points. But why don’t you go ahead and sit down in the chair, and I’ll show you what she can do.”
    She looked at him for a second or two. Was this guy crazy? Putting her in the command seat of who knows what?
    “Are you a pilot, Dr. Murnell?”
    “Me? No. And it’s Lance, by the way. Just call me Lance.”
    “You’re not going to brief me on your ship before putting me behind the controls?” Not that she could see any instrumentation. None appeared to be present–only the empty seat, apparently of major league aerospace manufacture, looking like it had been transplanted from the space shuttle.
    “Trust me. It’s better just to show you.” He pulled what appeared to be a small remote control device from the pocket of his sport coat. He pushed a button and the chair came to life, turning part way toward them. “Don’t worry. It won’t bite. Go

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