Saturday, 17 May 2014

Chapter 32. Of the Planning for the First Wave

The next day, Friday, was also the day the Tuglay rejoined us after their long sleep.

I began the morning meeting by saying, “On Monday, I want to start to Pull the first wave of trainees. You have probably noticed that I haven’t been available to the Team much this week. I have been spending a lot of time with Michael and Gabriel, and with Harv’I. I have been trying to work out in detail how to go about the next phase of the project.

“For the next two to three weeks, our main task is to bring the first wave of trainees here. Our secondary task is to find out enough about them, so that we know their particular potentials, and therefore what the Tuglay should aim to teach each individual.

“I’m going to put forward today a plan for how to do this main task, getting the trainees here. It affects pretty much everyone, except John and Galina who will continue with their news-gathering duties. So I want to run it past you all. If you’re happy, we’ll try it, starting on Monday. We can always change it if some things don’t work.

“But first, I want to bring up an issue with our Pedia database. We will need to give the trainees Pedia access. Now at the moment, everyone has access to everything. However, there are certain things the trainees shouldn’t be allowed to see. In particular, my progress reports to Balzo, the documents Sabrina is working on, and my communications with Harv’I. Only those in this room, and Harv’I, should be allowed access to those documents.

“I understand that the Pedia includes security features to allow different types of users access to different parts of the system?” Michael nodded. “But we haven’t turned them on yet. Do I have a volunteer or volunteers to set these up, so we can stop the trainees getting to our sensitive information? It needs to be done in the next three to four days.”

I got two volunteers – Ben and Hoong. It turned out that Ben, after a long career as an instructor in the military, had become a systems administrator. And Hoong, an electrical engineer by training, was heavily into computers. It was not difficult to appoint the two of them to do this job, under the tutorship of Michael.

“Now, back to our main topic,” I continued. “I want to set up two rooms in this building specifically as reception rooms for Pulling new trainees. I suggest the two rooms either side of the east door, 48 and 49, both of which are currently monitoring rooms. And I want to set up two reception committees, one for each room. One reception committee, if you are all willing, I would like to consist of Cees, Michael and Lily. The other of Elise, Gabriel and Hoong.”

All six were more than willing.

“The trainees we Pull,” I continued, “may be either individuals or couples. We are looking to do up to 52 Pulls in the next three weeks. If there are sufficient couples among them, that may bring us as many as 64 individuals. I think we must aim for each reception committee to do two Pulls and interviews each day. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. Sundays excepted, of course. And we won’t generally use Monday mornings either; I think that time is best reserved for monitoring those we plan to Pull in the days ahead.

“I envisage that Cees and Elise will Pull the great majority of the trainees. Hoong and I will do an occasional one now and then, to keep us in practice.

“I think we should look, if we can, to Pull people from their beds at home, as early as possible in the night. That gives us the chance, if any of them refuse to join our project, to return them before they can be missed. Since the Perinent day is two hours shorter than the Earth day, that means the best time zones to pick them up from will move round the Earth from west to east at two hours a day.

“Our Pullers will need to know each day which of the potential trainees are in time zones where we can pick them up in this way. Sabrina, can you organize a new version of the list of trainees, sorted by time zone of their homes?” “I’ll try,” she said.

“And can you keep us informed each day of how Perinent time relates to Earthly time? One of those ‘world clock’ displays in the dining room would be helpful, updated each evening before dinner.” She nodded.

“Of course,” I went on, “the Pullers will need to check on the individuals they are planning to Pull a day or so ahead. They must first get their dossiers from Sabrina, and talk to whoever has been monitoring them already. They will cross off their list, for now, anyone who seems to be away from home. And, each time they go to Pull, they should have a reserve or two identified, in case the individual or couple they planned to Pull turn out not to be available at the time.

“We also need to make sure the two reception committees don’t both try to Pull the same person. I suggest a simple solution. Let Sabrina put a unique serial number against each trainee individual or couple, extending the numbering system Bart already did. Then Cees can look to Pull only odd-numbered ones, and Elise even-numbered.”

I threw the discussion open at this point. There were many suggestions, but in the end we agreed this was a good a start as any.

“Moving on,” I continued. “We will have to work out the exact timing as we go along, but I think the way we brought Cristina and Helen here is a good model. We will use the blue sleep-gas capsules, which will put them out in five seconds or so, and keep them out about two hours. Knowing when the Pull took place, the reception committee will be ready to interview them when they wake up. We will also need Shami ready to provide robes, and the kitchen team tea or coffee.

“If the trainee was sponsored by a member of the Team, I want that person to be in the interview too. In fact, the sponsor should be the first person trainees see when they wake up.

“The interviews, hopefully, shouldn’t last more than about half an hour. Michael and Gabriel, please take the lead in explaining to the trainees what the project is about, what we are going to ask them to do, and the rewards. In the next few days, we will agree on exactly what you may say to them. That depends on what we are going to do about our secondary task, assessing each trainee’s strengths. And that depends, in its turn, on a meeting I want to have later today with the Tuglay.

“I will sit in on some of the interviews myself, but I cannot be there for anything like all of them. On Fridays in particular, I will be busy elsewhere.

“After the interview, assuming the trainees are interested, we take them for a ride in the ’mobile. That is why I have included a human pilot in each reception committee.” (The previous afternoon, Hoong had at last shown enough mastery to be allowed to pilot the Team. He had, in Lily’s phrase, passed his driving test.)

“I think it is best that we keep the trainees from the two reception rooms apart, until they have made their decisions. That may mean that one has to wait a little while. But I don’t want any possibility of them influencing each other negatively.

“Then we ask for a decision, while they are still in the ’mobile – so Michael or Gabriel can take them up again after they accept, just as we did with Cristina and Helen. If they are undecided, we take them back to the reception room, and give them half an hour or so to decide.

“If they reject us, and we cannot persuade them otherwise, then you, Michael or Gabriel, dose them with the special gas that will give them so much fun that they can’t remember, and Cees or Elise will Push them back.”

“Ah, yes,” said Michael. “The light, bright, white capsules I told you of. I will mix some. Before that, I will ask Gabriel to Pull the necessary ingredients from Seraph.”

I continued, “I want them back where we found them, awake but not remembering the interview, inside six hours from being Pulled. Also, you must tell Sabrina to cross them off the master list, so we won’t try to Pull them again.

“If they accept, we first need to assign them a room. Sabrina will maintain the list of allocated and vacant rooms. She will also note them on the master list as having arrived.” She nodded.

“Then we will take them to Shami to get a full set of clothes and some bed linen. We also give them a brief tour of the building, tell them about the timing of meals, and promise a full tour of the area the next day. Or, for those who arrive on a Saturday, tell them what will happen on Sunday, and promise them a full tour on Monday.

“Then, if they are tired, we can put them to sleep till dinner, or if they are really tired, till the following morning. If the trainee has a sponsor, the sponsor should organize all this. Otherwise, Lily or Hoong will do it.

“I suggest also that I, Sabrina and the members of the two reception committees meet each evening, a quarter of an hour before dinner. We will discuss the day’s progress, and make sure that Sabrina’s master list is absolutely accurate.”

Time for more discussion. Again, there were lots of suggestions. But again, my vision came out on top. That’s one reason I’m the Team Leader, I thought to myself. Lily and Gabriel, simultaneously, found it hard to keep from laughing.

But I had more to say yet. I turned to Dede, who had already volunteered his services as tour guide. “The second day each trainee is here, I would like you please, Dede, to give them their induction. Lead them on a tour of the camp. Take them to meet Harv’I and the Cherubim. Introduce them to the Tuglay. Brief them on who is who on the project, from Balzo down. Show them how to use the Pedia. Tell them about the daily rides, Sundays and whatever else they need to know about life here. Get them to write a message to family or friends on Earth. And organize one of our Pushers to send it where they ask.

“I guess that will take you roughly a morning or an afternoon for each group. As the pavilion for visiting Harv’I cannot hold more than four, your maximum group size is three. That means that, apart from Tuesdays, you will need to do two tours each day.”

Dede was, typically, relaxed and good-natured about what he had taken on.

“One last thing,” I said, turning to Michael and Gabriel. “Till now, it has been quite safe for us to wander around outside the hotel. I haven’t been out of the building since Monday except to the ’mobile, but I have noticed a steady increase in the amount of animal life here. Yesterday afternoon, I saw a herd of what looked like small deer. Which raises the question, where there are herds of animals, are there not also likely to be predators we need to be able to defend ourselves against?”

“It is rare for predators to come into this particular area,” said Gabriel. “These animals are indeed prey, but they are migrating. There are much easier places on their route for predators to catch them than here. At rivers, for example.”

“Nevertheless,” I said, “I think you ought very soon to teach Dede and myself, at least, how to use the laser gun, and what the potentially dangerous animals look like.”

Gabriel agreed to do that right after the meeting.

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