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"It's Full of Stars."

When two doctorates viewed a phenomenum of unpresedented proportion, their minds seemed to play tricks. Whether it did or did not, we shall find out.....

"Dr. Strong! Are you all right? You gave yourself quite a thump on the head! Dr. Strong? There we are. Now, slowly sit up and just relax for awhile. Can I get you something?"

As the director of the new Giant Magellan Telescope, Dr. Harold Stephanopoulos was more than concerned about his new assistant. Her head, now displaying a purple and red bruise, showed definite signs of contact with the metal bar.

"Doctor, please call me Vicki-Sue. I don’t go for formalities with personnel. I spent seven years at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and we all agreed on a first name basis. And thank you for your concern. I’ll be alright. Saw a few stars for a moment. Nothing I could distinguish, but stars all the same."

Vicki-Sue had assisted four different directors since completing her Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics. Hawaii, Chile, Australia, London, England and now the Island of Crete. The eight thousand foot Mt. Psiloritis became the ideal sight for the latest and single most modern and expensive telescope on earth, the "Giant Magellan Telescope". The eighty foot diameter mirror took over nine years of grinding to perfect the tolerances required. Never expecting to be asked to assist in the operation of this behemoth, Vicki-Sue was exhilarated to receive the invitation by Dr. Stephenopoulos. The G.M.T. was designed at the turn of the millennium with fabrication commencing in 2006. Final installation was completed in 2025, only after three years of arduous road construction to the summit of Mt. Psiloritis.

"Well Vicki-Sue, if you like, please call me Harold. And I’m so sorry about that metal protrusion. The construction crew were disassembling that support beam and failed to remove it. Now, if you had been an inch or so shorter, this accident would not have happened. And while we are on the topic, how tall are you? You must be at least six foot!"

Vicki-Sue, appreciative of the doctors concern, reached for his out-stretched hand and with considerable effort, slowly got to her feet. " With due respect Harold, I think I should get to work. If I decide to bang my head again, I’ll let you know first. And, I’m six one, without flats. My dance partners are shorter than I am, so my card never gets filled."

With a grin and a chuckle, Harold and Vicki-Sue donned their scrub outfits and walked to their respective work station. The computer consoles were ergonomicaly designed as long tedious hours were required at the observatory. Dr. Stephenopoulos first operation, was to start the diesel generators providing power to the massive motors which would open the monolithic doors hiding the telescopes optical refracting lenses.

"Vicki-Sue, our assignment for tonight is to photograph CM Tauri. The Richmond Observatory has asked us to coordinate their images, and ours, to determine the growing expanse of the visual cloud."

"Harold, I remember scanning that sector several years ago and I noticed a slight but definite prominence, suggesting an anomaly. Could that be the reason for our participation?"

Suggesting a look of possibility, Dr. Stephenopoulos nodded his bald head. "You might have something there lady. To notice a difference, we’ll have to compare their images with ours and see what’s going on out there. What sayth thou?"

"Sounds perfect to me Harold. I’m setting the coordinates for "NGC 1951". Which sector in the Crab Nebula do they want photographed?"

The observatory doors separated revealing the universe in all it’s glory. A clear and unobstructed view was presented to the two doctorates. Faint sounds of movement were heard as the giant telescope was moved to the correct sector of space where the cloud of dust and star matter was located. A supernova, exploding in earth year 1054, the Crab Nebula was one of the most observed sections of the sky. Never before analyzed, the ever expanding gas cloud could now be filmed in colour, identifying different elements and gas compositions due to the intelligence of the G.M.T. supercomputer.

It was Vicki-Sue’s comment that aroused the doctors apprehension. With almost two dozen years of physical applications to her resume, she was questioning the ascension and declination of the computer’s coordinates. "Harold, who programmed these co-ordinates? The telescope is not responding to the assigned parameters. Are you sure the accurate and current sky-chart designations were programmed correctly?"

"Vicki-Sue, I entered the log specifications myself and they were correct. The computer software acts the same as someone matching a finger print from an object to that which is stored in an international database. Yes I’m sure it’s correct. What seems to be the problem?"

"Doctor, telemetry echoes indicate correct location, but the imagery is totally inaccurate. If I were the computer, I would say we were in another sector of the universe. Nothing corresponds to the parameters with the program instructions. Either that, or something has dramatically changed within the past day or two. My guess is, a major occurrence has happened and we are witnessing this event. I’ve noticed an increase in radiation output along with an over abundance of gamma-rays. This is not normal. And by the way, in my experience, I have never seen dark matter form from within a supernova. I would truly appreciate your consensus of opinion."

Dr. Stephanopoulos relinquished telemetry controls to the supercomputer, left his station and glided to where Vicki-Sue was seated. "Okay, let’s see what you’ve got here. Ah, sometimes I’ve found we can’t rely on those damn machines. Take a look through the eye-piece and extrapolate. Anything different and we have a progress paper to write to the "Society". And that will shake the foundation of astronomy. We must be accurate and with proof, so Vicki-Sue, as I know you are, be very, VERY, accurate." Vicki-Sue was more than precise. Her entire reputation depended on her tenure and accuracy. And so, would also determined her future. If this was an anomaly, then it would be the first instance in this sector of space and also the first observation within the "CM TAURI" cloud.

"Harold, check this out. Within the cloud circumference, I’m seeing what a appears to be a black void. Could that be a ... naw, not so. It’s my imagination."

"Let me take a look Vicki-Sue."

"I don’t know what you were going to say, but I’ll say it for you. That’s the largest singularity in existence. The Milky Way was thought to have the largest at forty miles across but this thing, my gosh, it must be several thousand miles across. Could you imagine the potential power of that thing? I can’t!"

Neither spoke. The observatory was silent, except for the telescopes constant movement back and forth.

"Vicki-Sue, call Chile "Now", and have duplicating confirmations from Hawaii and Australia. Do it now. Time is of essence here. And get the Royal Observatory on the red line. I have to talk with Professor Guilding. He knows more about the quantum mechanics of these things than anyone. We have something here that is paramount to annihilation for planets. Quick, do as I say."

Across the planet, phones were ringing. Telescopes were taken off line and being redirected toward the NGC 1951 coordinates. Confirmation was paramount. Transoceanic phone lines, the secured internet, cell and land lines were buzzing with questions and assumptions. Nobody was willing to accept the truth of what was taking place. An anomaly was in fact taking place and after one thousand years, the supernova was to unveil it’s true potential. The single, most devastating and destructive force in the universe. A powerful black hole capable of destruction far beyond human comprehension. And Vicki-Sue had identified it’s existence.

"Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here Vicki-Sue. Wait till we hear back from Chile and Hawaii. They have the second and third most powerful telescopes and NASA has the "Hubble" focusing in that direction. Let’s have a coffee and settle down. We can be wrong you know!" But Vicki-Sue knew what she saw and so did her director. That thing will destroy everything. Not somethings, everything. The phone rang.

"Hello? Yes, this is Dr. Stephanopoulos. Yes I did. What do you make of it? You do? I see. Yes, I see. So, it’s agreed upon. I’ve notified the Royal Observatory and they are awaiting our confirmation and agreed results. Yes! Yes! Very well. I’ll do that. No, the media will not be informed. Thank you." and Harold hung up the phone.

"Vicki-Sue, I want you to leave the telescope and join me in the lounge. There is a bottle of "Ouzo" on the shelf above the fridge and this is definitely the time to open it. The first day on the job and you find the situation that will end our existence as we know it. How diabolical. You and I will become famous, albeit for but a second on the cosmic time scale. Dr. Marcus in Chile confirmed your hypothesis and estimated a time distance of less than sixteen hours before reaching us. If you have someone to call, I suggest, do it now. I hope you will join me in getting, I think your American term is "plastered". I’m not wasting an ounce of our beautiful liquor. Home grown and perfected. Please, fill your glass and mine also. Right to the top if you wouldn’t mind. Thank you."

Vicki-Sue’s eyes went watery. Her mind was spinning. The throb in her forehead went numb along with the gray colour extending across her beautiful Mediterranean-tanned face. Oblivion. That’s what was going to happen. "Oblivion. And I predicted it." she thought. "Yes, Dr. Stephanopoulos, I will join you. And no, there is nobody to call. I never got married, my parents and kin have succumbed to unfortunate circumstances and now, I do wish I had found that love. I really do wish I had conceived. two daughters. I would have wanted two beautiful daughters. That would have been my wish. And now, oh well. In another lifetime."

And so, Dr's Strong and Stephanopoulos sat forlorn in the observatory’s lounge drinking the finest liquor Greece could offer. Time passed quickly and the last minute of their existence was complete and instant.

"Dr. Strong! Dr. Strong! Good God woman. Look at your forehead. Stay quiet and just lay still. I’m getting a cloth and some antiseptic for that gash you gave yourself. Lord oh "Lord". Are you alright? Just relax. I’m here. The first day on the job and you just about kill yourself. Fine introduction to your new boss. Didn’t you see that I-beam? Damn workers. They should have taken it with them. Inept workers. We over pay these guys and look at the workmanship. Dangerous I tell you. Dangerous." Dr. Stephanopoulos was a man of many talents and assisted Vicki-Sue to her feet after applying first-aid. The first words she spoke were of dire concern.

"Please, Dr. Stephanopoulos, open the parabolic doors and tune the mirrors to NGC 1951. Something is very wrong. Don’t ask me why. Please, just do it."

Caressing her brow, and with a voice raising to a crescendo, Harold did as Vicki-Sue had demanded. The telescope was turned on, the observatory doors were opened, the computers were booted up and set to the pre-arranged parameters for the evenings designated coordinates. Dr. Stephanopoulos adjusted the optical eye-piece and viewed the refracted image. With a speed of unknown shock, he jumped back from the lens and stood with utter and complete astonishment. He uttered but three words.

"OH, MY GOD".......