Scan in progress

Whilst DeCoursey was keeping Tinker busy, Chadwick had opened up his tricorder and began scanning the area.

He surmised a number of things. First, the actor in question was young, so his heartbeat readings would be most likely strong. Second, he was also likely to be on the run and nervous, increasing his heart rate. So Chadwick set the scan parameters for a fast moving person with an increased heart rate. With help from Endurance, there was a good chance of tracking the fugitive.


"I'm not completely unfamiliar with the concept of 3D images." Tinker said, "There was a brief flirtation with the technology about a decade ago. People didn't like wearing the big funny visors."

"AH yes, well our 'dimensional projection' will work a little differently than that. But it's the same idea." Maddox replied.

"But where is your projection equipment?" Tinker looked confused, "And don't you need some sort of screen or something?"

"Not quite Mr. Tinker," Maddox smiled then nodded to de Coursey, "Step back and let my science officer do his thing."

Use the Tricorders

De Coursey glanced at Chadwick and, nodding, replied.

"Well, yes, I guess if we triangulated with the ship we could certainly detect all the bodies and movement in the building. If this feller is either running away or hiding somewhere unusual we'd be able to spot him, maybe..."

Jan's mind tried to see what he was about to describe from Tinker's less technologically advanced mind-set.

"Say, Mr Tinker, have you boys tried playing around with 3-D technology yet? I don't mean those goofy old red and green specs that give a static 3-D illusion, I'm talking about what we call "Holl-O-Grams." They really are a true three dimensional picture. We can scan this building and produce a complete image of it - in all dimensions - with any life forms lit up for all the world to see."

He hoped the worried looking TV Boss understood his meaning.


"Cameron's never caused any trouble before. He knows what an honor it is to be selected for a live program like 'Family Business'..." Tinker answered.

Maddox bristled a bit at the word 'honor', but Tinker was up and out the door with the Endurance team hot on his heels.

They were down near studio 47 in a matter of minutes, the lot was surrounded by a dozen blue uniformed PBN security guards. Each wore a dark blue silk jacket with a shiny gold badge on the lapel and the PBN logo on a patch on the sleeve. Each door to the great building was closed, a red light next to each door indicated "FILMING IN PROGRESS".

It was not lost on the party that each guard also carried some sort of firearm in a holster on their belts. Captain Maddox knew very little about ancient combustion weapons and their history, but the weapons appeared to be fed their ammunition via a small projectile-filled cylinder. A nasty looking customer, Maddox decided.

"We think he's still in the area Mr. Tinker." an older gent in uniform spoke up as they approached.

"You have a man at every exit?" Tinker demanded.

"Yes sir."

The disappearance was beginning to attract lots of attention from passers by on the lot. The gathering crowd consisted of no less that four cowboys, a dozen dainty pink ballerinas, a rather self important middle aged man in a suit with white tissue around his collar and a facefull of makeup, and a man in some sort of gorilla suit with the black ape head under his arm.

"Back now please, everyone stay back." one of the guards urged.

Maddox motioned to Chadwick and de Coursey discreetly, "I know it's a longshot, but do you think we might be able to help the search with our Tricorders?"


The Star Vanishes

"Interesting" thought Chadwick, out loud. "With you and your network busy with meeting and greeting us, your star seems to have chosen this point to go missing. Either he's playing a game to get your attention or........"

Chadwick had gotten Tinker's attention. The network chief stood up from behind his desk and glared at the doctor.

"Or what, Doctor?"

"Or someone else has made him vanish to get your attention. Tell me, does he have a history of causing trouble to your network?"


Studio 47

"Explore the galaxy?" Tinker gave a little chuckle, "Cost my dear, purely cost."

"Cost?" Maddox asked.

"Yes captain, do you have any idea what missions like that cost a company like mine? Sure the technology is possible. We've even developed it to the point of being a viable technology... but the cost of training the crew, building and fueling the ships and so forth. It got to the point where we couldn't even sell ad space on the launches. My network only has SO MUCH of a budget to throw at that sort of endeavor."

"How interesting." Captain Maddox muttered almost to himself, "So your space program is driven by ad sales and viewer numbers as well?"

"Now you're starting to get it captain." Tinker looked almost pleased that the crew of the Endurance was beginning to understand.

"For the time being, our space program has been limited to the launching and maintenance of our network of orbital broadcast satellites." Tinker said, then noticing the look on Maddox's face he added, "But things have developed that I believe will change all that."

"Mr. Tinker?" came his secretary's voice over the intercom unit on his desk.

"Virginia, I told you we were not to be disturbed." Tinker scolded as he thumbed the activation key.

"Yes sir, I'm sorry, but I have Lenny on the line... there's a problem at Studio 47."

"What is it?" Tinker demanded turning to look at his great wall of screens.

"They're missing one of their actors for the 'Family Business' program. It's Cameron, the 'goofy older brother'." Virginia answered.

Tinker adjusted a few buttons and in a moment he had all screens showing Studio 47. Each screen showed the view from a different camera trained on different areas of a set that looked like the interior of a modern home. Tinker scanned the screens.

"Is there a problem Mr. Tinker?" Maddox asked.

"'Family Business' is one of our programs that goes out to the public live. One of the actors has gone missing and from the looks of it, he's not on set."

"And that's bad?"

"Yes captain, that live broadcast is about to break down in the middle of a live planet-wide program. Cameron is one of the main characters! Virginia!" Tinker shouted into the intercom, "Get all available security down to Studio 47 and comb the area. Find that boy!"

"Yes sir!" Virginia closed the line.

"I'm very sorry captain, this isn't a normal day here at PBN. I really ought to get down there and help out." Tinker stood and grabbed his jacket as he made for the door.

"I understand Mr. Tinker," Maddox stood, "Perhaps we could be of some assistance?"

"Maybe so Captain, follow me then."


One question

After a momentary pause Leah spoke up with a question.

"Why do you choose not to explore the galaxy? You've developed warp drive, wouldn't the logical conclusion be to explore? I mean, you have such an amazing amount of communication technology, right? Aren't you interesting in see other races form of entertainment?"