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Legacy Project- CANCELED

©07 Levite
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"The vault is in Chevy Chase. Maryland. I know where to find it. And I know the combination. The plans. The blueprints. Are there."

Las Vegas, 1963 - 1965
"Mr. Hughes will see you now."

      Three young women shuffled in their chairs nervously, they glanced at the mirror across the waiting room and then made a point of ignoring it. Two of them were looking at magazines, the other filed at her nails absent-mindedly. They had all applied for a job through a personnel company that everybody knew was a front for Howard Hughes's corporation. And his corporation ran a good percentage of the city of Las Vegas, and now they were waiting for an interview for a paid position in a long term medical study.
      During the pre-interview background inquiry the investigators hired by the corporation checked the applicants for one thing. All had to be between one and three months pregnant and able to start immediately. There were also certain other factors listed personally by Mr. Hughes that weeded out a large percentage of the applicants immediately. The three left were to face Mr. Hughes himself. He would make the final decision.
      He was making it right now.
      On the other side of the mirror sat three TV cameras. On the other end of the cameras, three blocks away and nine floors up, Mr. Hughes was watching them wait.
      He had made up his mind as they walked in the room. Now he was just confirming his first instinct by staring at the women being displayed on the brand new color TV sets he had had set up for this personal closed circuit broadcast.
      After an agonizingly long time Hughes reached out and pushed a button on the massive speakerphone on the table.
      "Yes sir." The phone said.
      "What is the name and story on number two? The redhead."
      "Kaitlynn sir. Kaitlynn Moore. She's nineteen, a runaway. This is her first child, sir. She's about two months along." The man paused. "She works in the restaurant in the Sands."
      "Where's she from?"
      "Texas, sir. Rosenberg, Texas."
      "Excellent. Bring her up." For the first time in several days, Hughes smiled.

      At the office complex a secretary opened the door to the waiting room and told two of the young women to come with her. "Miss Moore, please accompany John to the car. Mr. Hughes will see you now." The other two women were given a good sum of money in cash to compensate them for their time and trouble then allowed to go back to their lives.
      Miss Moore had to shower and change clothes, putting on an outfit that had been sterilized and totally unscented. A personal assistant warned her not to try to shake hands with Mr. Hughes or even to touch anything in the suite. She was to sit in one or another of the special chairs near, but not too near the desk. She wasn't to be surprised if Mr. Hughes wore a germ mask to speak to her. Then she was taken to a private elevator to ride to the top floor suite which was the private domain of the richest man in the world.

      The ad was very vague about the exact details about the medical study that would be conducted. However, it was very clear that the woman would be a full time employee of one of the company's research divisions and eligible to be retained after the birth of the child, which would continue the benefits for both. Not only did the job come with pay, but with an allowance for room and board, something of acute interest to Miss Moore for personal reasons.

      Miss Moore got off the elevator and was dazzled by the near darkness of the rooms. Hughes had been keeping his personal quarters in near total darkness recently, conversely, up to some time last month, he had every light in the place on under the working assumption that bright light would kill bacteria. However right now Hughes was on medication that increased his sensitivity to light, so both of his private floors were once again in perpetual twilight.
      In a minute she saw the way the aid told her to go. She walked down a short plain hallway. Every so often a framed poster of one of the Hughes Company's interests was hung beneath a small art light, however, according to Mr. Hughes's wishes, the lights were off. The overall impression was a company in a state of formal morning. Miss Moore glanced at the images as she walked down the hall. There was a film studio represented, as well as the tool company where it all started, even the latest development from the space division. It was an impressive display meant to convey the importance of the man behind the far door, if any such display were needed that is, however, Miss Moore was the first outsider to see the artwork in over a year.
      "Please. He's waiting." A thin young man said from a door near the end of the hall. "You only have a few minutes."
      He directed her in to a different room from the one she had been told to go to.

      Behind the desk was a thin man who appeared to be in his sixties with unkempt hair wearing a terry cloth robe. Miss Moore had only seen a few pictures of the billionaire but she recognized him immediately. His overall demeanor was much the same as the images she had seen, but he was a great deal older, and his appearance was less than the ideal of the man in the posters with the prototype airplane. His nails needed attention and he hadn't shaved for some time either. She noticed the somewhat heavy scent of pine in the room which seemed out of place.
      He looked at her with eyes that appeared to be clouded with medication, but still with an almost fierce intensity behind them that was undiminished by either age or chemicals. Behind him was two others dressed in the same sort of outfit she was wearing, one of them was a man about Hughes's age, the other was younger, both were wearing white jackets.
      Hughes nodded to a chair that was covered with tissue paper and she sat down.
      With a slow voice that was almost hypnotic with its innate humor and subtle strength Hughes began telling Moore a story about how he wanted to try to transfer some of what he referred to as his 'spark of genius' to the newborn. He was certain that through the transference of his mental energies through an EEG device developed at his medical institute the child would grow up to continue his work.
      Miss Moore was somewhat intrigued by the idea of her baby being born 'gifted' as he had put it, but she didn't understand how Hughes would influence the baby that way.
      "Doctor Harris will explain if you will be following through." Hughes said. "If not, we will go no further."
      She hesitated a second, but then as Hughes turned to the man who had brought her in she almost jumped out of her chair, she had heard of his impatience with indecision in others. "Yes sir. I'll do it. What do I have to do?" She exclaimed quickly.
      Hughes's smile was the one she remembered from pictures of him and a new airplane. "The doctor will explain. Please get her ready." He waved them out of the room with a backhanded gesture.
      The aid opened the door and asked her and the younger of the two doctors to follow him.
      Hughes didn't acknowledge their exit.

      Miss Moore was taken to a room one floor down from the penthouse suites. She was shown a hotel suite with an attached office. First the aid explained her duties and her schedule. She would be managing part of Mr. Hughes's official correspondence to political figures and other officials.
      The aid showed her several large file folders of previous correspondence and templates to which she could refer, if there was any question about how Mr. Hughes would answer any particular issue and it was not in the file, she would write the question on paper and seal it between two sheets of clear plastic to be taken to Mr. Hughes by another aid. When Mr. Hughes answered a personal assistant would write the answer out and return it to her. Miss Moore would then compose the letter according to the guidelines, then she was to send the letter downstairs. If it was approved by Mr. Hughes's manager, a signature machine would sign it in his handwriting.
      "Do you understand all that has been explained to you?" The doctor asked her.
      She closed her eyes, a habit she had developed when thinking carefully, it gave the impression that she was saying a short prayer. Then she looked at the doctor and the aid standing near the door staring at her. "Yes."
      "Then come, we have a contract for you to sign."

      The aid explained the contract and related papers to her in great detail. There were three confidentiality statements for her to sign as well, one for the medical procedure, one for the business correspondence. Then she had to read and sign the agreement for her use of the hotel room and a company car. Finally there was a release for her medical records to be transferred to a company doctor. Three copies of each and every form, one for the company, one for the company's legal department, and one for her.
      Miss Moore initialed some pages and signed others and read most of them. As each section was finished the copies were separated, sorted into labeled folders, then the aid went through a very methodical checklist against all three collections.
      Finally satisfied the aid handed her a large clasp folder with her set of documents. "Do you agree that you have given your informed consent for the experimental in utero infant educational program, including the minor surgical procedure to enable the process. Employment in the Hughes organization. And all related matters including the non-disclosure agreements?"
      She nodded gravely. "Yes sir."
      "On your application you did not list a next of kin to be notified in case of emergency. Is there anybody you can think of that should be called?" The aid said. "Just in case, you know." He added with some compassion in his voice.
      After a bit of hesitation Miss Moore said she still talked to her sister once in awhile, then she wrote a name and phone number down on one of the cover sheets.

Brain waves and Rachmaninov

      Miss Moore had until the following Monday to 'put her personal affairs in order' and move into the suite in the hotel.
      She had thought that she'd have trouble getting out of her lease until that Friday when she found a note taped to her door that a corporation she had never heard of had bought the building with plans to tear it down so they could expand a nearby casino. She knew that Hughes had purchased that casino not long ago. Her roommate thought it was just terrible that they were going to loose their apartment. Then Miss Moore had to break the news to her that she was moving out the next day.
      By Sunday afternoon she was in her suite looking out over the city from her sixth floor window.
      Miss Moore put her hand on her stomach and wondered about how a thoughtless weekend ended up being such a turning point in her life.

      The guy had been smooth and charming and had money to spend. He called her 'Katie' based on her name tag's 'Kaitlynn', and talked to her like they were old friends even though she'd never seen him before.
      She even told him when she got off work, something she never did.
      He took her out for drinks and dancing at an after hours club just off the strip. Then somehow they ended up back at her apartment. The next morning he took her out to breakfast.
      She never saw him again. She didn't even know his real name. He had told her to call him 'Buddy'.
      When she missed her period she knew what had happened. It had to have been Buddy, there hadn't been anybody else for a long time.

      Then she saw the advertisement on the bulletin board at the hotel. It described her situation perfectly, so she called them.
      And now she was here.

      Tuesday Miss Moore met with her 'personal assistant' who would also serve as her midwife when the time came.
      Mrs. Grubner was more grandmother than secretary, but was full of good advice and concern for Miss Moore and her baby. The older woman was also fiercely loyal to Mr. Hughes who she unabashedly referred to as 'a great man'.
      Mrs. Grubner would be with her for every procedure and meeting to make sure Miss Moore's interests were being looked after and that her concerns were addressed.
      "So you understand what they're talking about doing?" Miss Moore asked her.
      "Oh no dear. Not a word of it. All that science and like that isn't for somebody like me. But I know mothers and babies."

      Wednesday she met with several of the doctors that would monitor the process and the lead researcher from Hughes's medical institute. As promised, Mrs. Grubner was right by her side, and at times, did most of the talking. But during the discussion Miss Moore became intrigued by what they were proposing, then she began wondering if it could possibly work, and if it did, what it would mean to the world.

      The medical side of the procedure was simple, but a little scary.
      It involved the doctors making a small incision on the side of her stomach and implanting small electrodes around her uterus these would be connected via a small plug to the state of the art EEG topography device that would then be connected to Mr. Hughes. The goal being that the brain of the developing fetus would become accustomed to the thought patterns of the man who by all accounts was an aeronautic genius. Then later perhaps the child's brain, already accustomed to those brain patterns would emulate them as it developed.
      Less intrusive, but no less part of the program, was the study which would subject Miss Moore and thereby her baby, to hours of classical music per day. That side of the project was being supervised by medical resident Dr. Ginn, who was interested in the ability of classical music to 'tune' brain waves as well as to calm and soothe those listening to it. The resident said there was anecdotal evidence that babies in the womb could hear the music and by repeatedly listening to classic music and its mathematical progressions and complex harmonies it may increase their overall intellectual capacity.
      Miss Moore told them that if there was any way to give her baby a head start in the world, considering how he would be beginning as the child of an unwed mother, she was all for it.
      "Excellent." Doctor Harris nodded slowly. "We have scheduled the surgical procedure for tomorrow morning if that is all right with you."
      She had no objections.

      They were taken by car to the hospital while it was still dark out. There was no in-processing or paperwork. Miss Moore found herself being prepared for the surgery within minutes of walking onto the surgical floor. Doctor Harris came out and gave some orders then he chatted with her and Mrs. Grubner while his wishes were being carried out. Then they were on their way into the operating room.
      Miss Moore still hadn't gotten used to the way things worked when the name Hughes was involved. But now she was seeing that 'the great man' and those who worked directly for him played a different game by totally different rules than the rest of the world. She had expected the nurse to tell Mrs. Grubner she'd have to wait in the waiting room, but instead, the nurse put a gown, mask, and gloves on the woman and she was right by her side holding her hand as they began the operation.

      Everything was done under local anesthetic. Miss Moore wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but it certainly wasn't what happened. The two doctors worked quickly and expertly through a small incision in her left side. They maneuvered the wires by pressing on her stomach in various places and then checked the results on the small snowy screen of a device they called an ultrasound scope that Miss Moore had never heard of before.
      It took about an hour to get all eight wires in place, but then she was wheeled out and allowed to relax in the recovery room while the doctors checked the final images again.
      By noon she was back at the hotel. Mrs. Grubner waited on her hand and foot and made sure she didn't exert herself. Miss Moore said her stomach was a little sore, but she felt OK and had only had slight discomfort since they had put the bandage on her side.

      Dr. Ginn came by later and showed them the reel to reel tape machine that would play the various symphonies and piano pieces, most of them picked by Mr. Hughes himself, for that side of the procedure. The young man even suggested to her that she read out loud from several of the classic great books he had brought for her.
      Miss Moore sat on the couch and listened as the music began to play, then she opened one of the books and started reading softly to herself. There was nothing else she could do.

      Saturday Dr. Harris checked the incision for signs of infection or rejection.
      "Everything looks good. We'll start tomorrow morning if Mr. Hughes is available." He said to them.
      Miss Moore looked up at Mrs. Grubner, the lady nodded and said she'd be there. "OK doctor. Sunday will be fine."

      The Consultation room was upstairs on Mr. Hughes's office floor. It was a small dimly lit room with a partition down the middle. On one side was a chair covered in tissue paper where Mr. Hughes would sit with the specially made cap on his head. The thirty-six electrodes prickled out of the white cloth with their wires carefully wrapped in white tape until they were gathered into a tight cable that fed through a small hole in the partition to the machine on Miss Moore's side.
      One doctor would be on Mr. Hughes's side and monitor him during the procedure. It was understood by all going in that one word from Mr. Hughes could stop the entire procedure for that individual session, or indeed, the entire experiment. It was, without a doubt, his show.
      On the other side of the partition from Mr. Hughes and his private physician would be the rest of the team. Everybody except Mr. Hughes was dressed in the same sterile garb Miss Moore had become accustomed to. Her side of the room was crowded with the equipment, the bed she was to lie on, the various monitors that ranged from three small TV screens in a line above the machine to a single large screen that was part of it with white tape on the top and bottom with the designations 'Kate', 'HH', 'Power', and 'Amp'.
      Miss Moore relaxed on the table and listened to the piano music she had found out was Rachmaninov playing something she couldn't pronounce while Dr. Harris taped a couple more electrodes to her abdomen and plugged another cable into the connection under her bandage.
      Then the older doctor stepped around the barrier. "He's ready." He said.
      "Powering up." Doctor Harris said. "Good signal. Good connections. Monitoring." He paused. "Beginning. Now." He pushed several buttons. The small TV screen on the far right hand end of the row of three came on and began a countdown from ninety minutes.
      Miss Moore had been told that she might feel a bit of tingling around the various electrodes, but she really didn't feel anything. She listened to the music, and half watched the TV screens and just let it go. Mrs. Grubner sat down by her feet and knitted. The time passed surprisingly quickly.
      "Very good. Powering down." Doctor Harris said. "First session complete."
      They could hear the other doctor disconnecting Mr. Hughes and escorting him out of the room.
      Dr. Harris disconnected the equipment and helped Miss Moore up.

Seven Months, nine days.

      Miss Moore had been a quick study as far as her job with the company went. She understood the need for each and every letter to be answered as personably as possible, but with minimal interruption of Mr. Hughes's day.
      One of the things that amazed her was how many of the otherwise innocent appearing letters had some sort of appeal for money in them.
      Most of the 'handout' letters Mr. Hughes received went to another office where they may or may not be answered. Some were answered with good advice about how to apply for an actual grant from either the corporation or the government, others may be answered with the name of a local charity that might help the writer. A very select few would be answered with everything from a small amount of actual cash to a check for a million dollars.
      Miss Moore knew she did not have the authority to promise anybody anything. If the plea seemed earnest, or especially worthwhile to her, as the one to open a day care in a housing project for unwed mothers who were trying to work full time jobs, she forwarded it to the other office for evaluation with a note explaining why she thought they might want to look into it. But most of her letters were basic correspondence. Some were of an almost personal nature, others were newsletters or invitations to things Mr. Hughes would never attend. She referred to the templates and wrote out an answer and sent it to the signature machine.
      As days went by she became more and more comfortable with the job and began taking on more and more of both the amount and complexity of the letters she handled. Something which pleased Mr. Hughes greatly although he never told anybody.

      They usually did the ninety minute EEG session the first thing in the morning, sometimes at six or seven, then another hour long session in the afternoon.
      Once in awhile Mr. Hughes would request a late night session, but not often.
      Occasionally Mr. Hughes would talk with them, more often than not it would be a lecture about some aspect of his life or work, but most usually he would sit in near total silence sometimes asking that the music be played to Kaitlynn over headphones so as not to disturb him, and sometimes they would all be in almost total darkness as well to accommodate his wishes. And at other times Mr. Hughes would not attend and Dr. Harris would run a taped recording of Mr. Hughes's brain waves through the machine instead of canceling the session.
      As Miss Moore's condition progressed Dr. Harris and Mrs. Grubner took extra precautions to make sure that the session wouldn't be interrupted by conditions common to pregnant women. Namely an upset stomach or unexpected calls of nature.

      Several months later Miss Moore wasn't sure about how much extra intellectual development her baby was getting from all the highbrow music and heavy literature, but she felt like she was about halfway through college. She had read all of the books Dr. Ginn had brought and requested, and received, more. And she had gotten to know the various composers by reading the biographical information included with their albums, and been immersed in some depth into the inner workings of one of the world's great corporations. However all this played out, she knew she wouldn't be going back to waiting tables anytime soon.
      As for the other side of the equation with her baby, the EEG sessions were still going forward, although there were more and more times when they used one of several pre-recorded sessions because Mr. Hughes was unavailable. When they used the tape they would go on for a couple of hours longer than otherwise, which Dr. Harris thought would give more benefit to the baby than the brief live sessions.

      As for her medical condition, Dr. Harris and any one of several interns from the hospital continually examined her and pronounced her and her baby as healthy as they could be in spite of the occasional bout of false labor contractions. Miss Moore had been eating excellent food, swimming in the hotel pool and using the gym equipment that had been installed for Mr. Hughes but that he had never used, as well as engaging in deeper and deeper conversations about music and literature with Dr. Ginn.
      And her social skills had improved as well. Mr. Hughes still had connections in Hollywood, and several screen stars and media moguls would call on him at various times. And as Mr. Hughes was still Mr. Hughes, sometimes the guests were kept waiting for some time before they were granted an audience. While they waited, many would seek out company. Miss Moore learned to be a gracious host the hard way- by doing it because her boss would not.

      "It is my opinion that you could deliver anytime in the next three weeks." Dr. Harris said after her weekly exam. "You are nearing full term and as this is your first baby, it could come at any time."
      Miss Moore didn't really believe him, but she didn't say anything and prepared herself for the next EEG session.
      Four days later she woke up early in the morning with what felt like the mild cramps she had had before that seemed to be related to eating too much salad. Then she thought it was another set of false contractions. As soon as Mrs. Grubner arrived the lady examined her and pronounced her well into the early stages of labor and that they should call the doctor and have the car on standby. An hour later her water broke and Mrs. Grubner helped her into the shower to rinse off and ease some of the discomfort of the contractions.
      Mrs. Grubner kept her calm and comfortable as her labor progressed. Then she called for the car and they went to the hospital. But instead of being taken up to the usual operating room used for childbirth Miss Moore was taken to a special suite of rooms used for 'private births'. One of the doctors that had examined her before was in attendance but Mrs. Grubner did the actual birth. There were no complications.

      Miss Moore's first child was delivered by normal vaginal delivery at five forty-five that afternoon. Seven pounds, six ounces. Eighteen inches long. With an initial APGAR score of 8.
      A healthy girl.


      Within a few minutes of the birth and the evaluation of the child Dr. Harris telephoned Mr. Hughes with the news.
      At first the billionaire was incredulous. He had never even considered that the baby would be a girl. That hadn't been part of his plan, he had almost accepted the fact that he could not indefinitely extend his own life and had conceived of this plan to extend his intellect instead. But he had imagined a younger version of himself who would continue into the next century. He wasn’t angry, at least not for long, just disappointed, then decisive. He scowled at his personal physician then spoke forcefully into the phone.
      "Cancel the project." Mr. Hughes said.
      "Do what you wish with the girl and the baby, just cancel the project." He moved to hang up but then had another thought. "And prepare for a move. I will be leaving Las Vegas."
      "Yes sir." Dr. Harris said. He knew better than to argue. And when Mr. Hughes said he was doing something it could mean that they would do it tomorrow, or maybe next year. It was entirely up to him. And he could be quite unpredictable.
      "What did she name it?" Hughes asked almost as an afterthought.
      "Darcie." Dr. Harris answered.
      There was only silence then the sound of the phone being hung up from Hughes's end.
      Dr. Harris was left with the chore of deciding what to do now. He resolved to keep her employed by the company, if possible, until Hughes moved, then have her reassigned to one of the other properties. But he'd wait a few days before he told her, it was the least he could do.

      Miss Moore was ecstatic with her baby. She used the term 'beautiful' more in one hour than she had before in her entire life to describe the dark haired girl. She had Darcie's diaper and blanket off and on her about six times before she was convinced that the baby didn't have an extra leg or something.
      It was the next day before she remembered the goal of the EEG sessions and the music and reading. But the baby nursing at her breast didn't stop suckling and comment about aircraft engines or anything, so she let it go for the time being.
      The next day Miss Moore and her baby were taken back to the hotel.

      "Good morning Kaitlynn." Dr. Harris said to her the next day.
      She was surprised by the use of her first name, she had been 'Miss Moore' to almost everybody since she had gotten there.
      "I hope it's OK if I call you that. Since the project is over, I thought we could become a bit more personable." He smiled gently. "Although you won't technically be my patient any longer, I would like to keep in touch with you and keep up with Darcie's progress." He smiled at the baby.
      "Of course Doctor." Kaitlynn smiled warmly. "I'd like that."
      "And unless things change dramatically, you may continue to live here until Mr. Hughes moves to another facility and keep up with his correspondence."
      "Thank you."
      "And of course Mrs. Grubner will look after Miss Darcie while you are working until other arrangements are made."
      "Thank you." Kaitlynn repeated.
      "Now, if you have a moment, I'd like to examine you and her one more time so I may have that information in my final report."
      "Of course." She got up and followed him to the room they had used for the procedure.

      Without the double interruptions of the EEG procedure Kaitlynn found her day was less demanding. Even with Darcie she had time to do a few other things each day. And she was determined to make as much use of the hotel's facilities as possible to get herself back in her 'pre-baby' shape as she could. Mrs. Grubner thought that was an excellent idea and watched the baby while Kaitlynn swam and did calisthenics several times a week.
      That and she learned the business, and worked the correspondence, and enjoyed visits with various important people that were waiting to call on Mr. Hughes, but wanted to see the new addition to Hughes Corporation.
      Kaitlynn had grown as much as Baby Darcie in the shadow of the man.

      As 1964 turned into 1965 it became clear to the entire staff that Hughes was now serious about moving. Not just out of the hotel or even Las Vegas, but perhaps even out of the country.
      Kaitlynn had good contacts with several of the corporation's offices, and even a lead on a nice semi-furnished apartment in one of their other buildings. And since most of her expenses at the hotel had been for incidentals, she had been able to save almost everything she had been paid for the last year and a half.
      Darcie was becoming a very enthusiastic toddler and would need a lot of looking after. Mrs. Grubner stated flat out that she regarded herself as the little girl's grandmother and wouldn't hear of anybody else watching her while Kaitlynn worked.
      Dr. Harris let it slip one day that he had been living out of his suitcases for some time. Mr. Hughes had been very agitated every day for the last week or so and he expected them to be leaving at any time. He hugged and kissed Darcie and said goodbye to Kaitlynn and Mrs. Grubner just in case he didn't see them again.
      "And oh, yes. Dr. Ginn said he would like you to keep the books and records and things. For Darcie." Dr. Harris said with a smile.
      Kaitlynn was delighted.
      They did see the doctor a couple more times, but it was clear things were not normal.

      Then one day the next week one of the less important aides came in and said that Mr. Hughes and his staff had vacated during the night. The man and his personal physician had left suddenly by private plane, the rest of the staff followed as they could with the rest of his effects.
      Kaitlynn helped them clean up the penthouse to get it ready in case Mr. Hughes decided to come back at any time.
      The following week she and Darcie moved out of the hotel to the apartment near one of the other company casinos.
      She continued to work on Mr. Hughes's correspondence for a while longer, but then that too was transferred to another office, and she could begin working for the real estate company.

      Darcie grew from a baby into a cute little raven-haired girl with bright flashing eyes and started kindergarten at a private school many of the company's employees sent their children to.
      At her pre-school test Darcie scored solidly in the 'normal for age' range but showed a tendency to talk a bit more than she should in a classroom setting.
      Kaitlynn worked hard and got promoted to office manager for the real estate division. She dated an engineer but the relationship never became serious enough for them to discuss marriage. A year or so later she began seeing one of the guys who had been a floor supervisor at the casino she used to work at, but nothing seemed to be coming from that relationship either.
      Although she had been taking music lessons at her mother's insistence, Darcie never really enjoyed piano or organ. But she kept at it and played well enough to occasionally fill in playing for their church during morning services.

Las Vegas, 1981

      In high school Darcie discovered that she was much better at playing guitar than she ever had been at piano. But having played the keyboard for years gave her a great familiarity with music and an edge when she tried out for a local band that sometimes played as an opening act in some of the second tier casino nightclubs and lounges. As such groups are prone to be somewhat 'fluid' the members changed almost daily, but every change, and sometimes a change back, would make the group better, or at least different, and they continued to work to make it to the next level.
      A short time later, in yet another configuration, the band, 'the Sonic Ducks' had developed a good following and had been playing to larger venues and commanding a better billing on the marquis, and getting paid more. Now with a real album done in a professional studio, they were a 'real' group.
      Dr. Harris, now the senior medical doctor on the company payroll, had been stopping to visit now and then over the years. And now when he came to town he made a point to go see Darcie's band, he called Kaitlynn and invited her to attend as his escort for the evening. She gladly accepted the 'date' with her old friend.

      The Sonic Ducks were to be the first opening for a mainstream rock act that wouldn't take the stage until a couple of hours later. Kaitlynn escorted the Doctor both to the club and then backstage to meet the band before the show.
      Darcie hugged the man that helped her into the world and introduced her band, then took him and her mom down the hall to meet the headlining act.
      The lead singer thought it was 'really way cool' and shook hands with Doctor Harris and commented about how he didn't think the cab driver and the cop that were at his birth would even remember the night it happened. The doctor assured the singer that it wasn't something they would likely ever forget. Then the group's manager herded them out of the room so the band could 'meditate before the show'.
      As the door shut behind them they heard a blast of angry rap music and some breaking glass from the room.
      "I guess they meditate in unusual ways." Doctor Harris said.

      Darcie's guests were seated fairly close to the front so they had an unobstructed view as the show opened.
      The Ducks did a good solid set of cover songs from the sixties and seventies with a few of their own songs mixed in, some of those had been co-written by Darcie, to a good enthusiastic response from the crowd. The tall shapely girl with the jet hair and radiant smile was as much the attraction as the music, true, but the music was every bit as good as well.
      After their set Darcie came out and sat with her mom and the doctor for the second warm up act, but by the time the headliners came out they were gone to the buffet for a late dinner.

      Darcie kept playing through college at the university but as things went on that began to take a back seat to her studies and her interest in getting a good job besides the part time office work she was doing in a competitor's real estate office to her mom's firm.
      With her mom's connections, and no small amount of input from Doctor Harris Darcie got a couple of interviews with various arms of the companies that Hughes's corporation had evolved into. They got her the interviews, but that was all, she had to earn the job from there.
      Darcie had a lot going for her- she was a very intelligent and attractive young woman with a solid education, a musical flair, and inside knowledge and connections. She understood how the companies had come about and how they operated and exactly what the job was that she was applying for.
      The first two positions went to inside applicants, but the third opening at an office in Houston was all hers.
      It would mean leaving her home, and the Ducks, but it was for the best, and they all new it. Besides, one of the band knew about a group in Houston that was looking for somebody that could play keyboards, Darcie smiled and flexed her fingers.
      Kaitlynn helped her pack and the drummer drove the moving van to Houston for her. The final good bye was as tearful as any movie could ever hope to be, but then it ws over and she was alone.
      Darcie looked out the window of her tenth floor apartment at the city beyond.
      "Well Houston. Here I am." She smiled at the skyline.

Houston, 1990
"This is how it should be done!"

      Just as Darcie had conquered the Sonic Ducks she conquered the band OilSlick. She had started out on keyboards and background vocals. Then she wrote them a song, then she played guitar on some sets. Then... they were hers.
      Just as Darcie had been on her way to conquering Las Vegas and making the Strip her own she was well on her way to taking over Houston. She was well known in some quarters and the light of the party when she showed up.
      Just as Darcie had ruled the office where she had worked part time through college, she was becoming a force to be reckoned with in the industrial supply company that traced its roots back to the Hughes Tool Company.

      Ms Darcie Moore's name was now on an office door.
      She worked both in the tool company office in Houston and a distribution site in Oklahoma City.
      When she needed to be forceful, she could be as assertive as was needed. When the situation required finesse and tact, she could do that too. When the occasion called for a smile and a bit of charm, she could be as charming as anybody had ever been.
      During a special project with one of the other companies that had emerged from under the Hughes umbrella but still worked in cooperation with the others Darcie made a special trip to Boston to discuss some developments with an aerospace working group. And there, she made quite the impression on several important people from various other companies as well.

      As her professional life took off her musical life took a back seat.
      Darcie still wrote songs once in awhile, and she found far more satisfaction from playing keyboards as a sidelight far more than being the lead in a band. Then she got into teaching a bit of music to the children of a couple of her friends which gave her a great deal of satisfaction as well.

      As for her personal life, she dated a guy or two now and then, but nobody seemed to strike sparks with her. Which led to rumors that maybe she liked girls more than boys, but a few of the women in the various offices killed that rumor before it could go too far. It would seem that the phenomenal Ms Moore simply wasn't interested in social outings.
      Other than an occasional lunch date with an old doctor who was a family friend or somebody from one or another music group, Darcie simply didn't go out. And she didn't seem to want to.

      As the nineties drew to a close, the charming Ms Moore was coming into her own.
      And she knew it.

Las Vegas, 2004

      Darcie got a call one afternoon from Doctor Harris. He said she needed to fly to Vegas right away as her mom was sick.
      Doctor Harris had retired to the town he had always thought of as home. There he renewed his long term friendship with Kaitlynn and even ran into some of the guys from the old Sonic Ducks who were now playing with yet another house band as middle aged rockers with a long history in the clubs.
      All in all he found retirement quite enjoyable.
      Then one day when he was having dinner with Kaitlynn he mentioned that she wasn't eating. One thing led to another and Doctor Harris ended up calling Darcie.

      "There is nothing we can do about it." The doctor said to the distraught daughter of the woman sleeping in the other room. "It goes back to some surgery she had just before you were born."
      Darcie blinked at the tears. "What surgery?"
      Doctor Harris paused. "Let's wait until your mom is awake and then if she wishes, we'll tell you."

      The tale left Darcie speechless. For the first time in ages she didn't even know what questions to ask.
      But she also knew that it was true.
      Then after an awkward silence Darcie came up with a question.
      "So what did it do to me?"
      Doctor Harris shook his head, his thin white hair shifted with the motion to give him something of a halo in the light coming in from the window behind him. Then he paused.
      "I don't know." The doctor said. "There was actually a chance that your brain would become accustomed to the patterns of Mister Hughes's thought patterns, but I suspected t would require more than a couple of hours a day of the procedure. But of course, we had to abide by his wishes."
      "But because of all this you went to a good school and had a nice home and all." Kaitlynn said. Her eyes were full of tears and her voice was breaking. "I did it for you. I knew if I didn't do something my baby would end up in the same shape I was when..." She couldn't say any more.
      "I know mama. But it just seems so...." She was fishing for a word.
      "Weird." Doctor Harris finished for her. "Once you worked closely with Mr. Hughes you got used to that sort of thing. He could make things happen, or not happen, just by the mere mentioning of his name. And sometimes it was just bizarre."
      "That one man could have that much power." Darcie said.
      "He still does. Even after all these years."
      "Look at you." Kaitlynn said. "You are who you are because of him, even though his plan didn't work."
      Doctor Harris had been regarding Darcie closely.
      His theory had been that as she got older and her brain matured closer to the age and condition Hughes had been at the time, more and more of the intended effects would come to the forefront. If they did at all.
      The doctor smiled gently at the young woman and her mother. "Didn't it?"

Chicago, 2007

      Darcie didn't feel any different. But now she wondered if ideas that she had had, or intuitions she had felt in certain situations were her own or were they his?
      When she had watched the video of parts of the procedures, grainy black and white soundless 8mm images made as part of the documentation that had been transferred to videotape at sometime in their history Darcie had had a wave of coldness travel along her spine until she physically shivered from it. The view panned around the rooms, she smiled at her mom lying sound asleep listening to the piano music she preferred, then the camera showed the monitoring equipment and a much younger Dr. Harris.
      At one point the camera had been pointed at Mr. Hughes as he sat with his wired cap on his head. The man looked up with a scowl, but then just before the camera moved away he looked right into the lens and a fleeting grin appeared and then disappeared.
      The cause of the grin had been something the cameraman had said to him, but Darcie couldn't have known that.
      Or could she.
      "They should have put the tape in the vault." Darcie had said when that part had been on her mom's TV.
      Dr. Harris didn't say anything. He remembered the day they had filmed the procedure, and what the young man with the camera had said to the billionaire. He had never told Kaitlynn of the comment made while she was sleeping with headphones on. But Darcie had said it spontaneously as the old man flashed a quick smile at the camera.

      Ms Moore had been promoted and hired into yet another company that had been under the Hughes banner. And with the new job came a new city.
      From her new apartment Darcie could see the dark miles of Lake Michigan retreating mysteriously into the distance.
      Her knack for seeing previously unknown applications for existing technology and ways for combining existent devices and methodologies into new combinations had been noticed.
      She had a fancy title and a fancier office, a staff of incredibly bright young people who reminded Darcie a lot of herself a few years ago, and a salary that looked like the promised prizes that had been in bright flashing lights over some of the slot machines in the casinos her band used to play in.
      Her first project was to develop a way, with representatives of several of the companies including the tool group for production equipment and the aerospace outfit for engineering, to deliver an advanced orbital test platform that could be recovered by the shuttle or other recoverable spacecraft using things that were sitting in warehouses instead of on pipe dream drawing boards.
      Darcie loved it.
      They worked steadily on the problem for weeks. She scoured through reports and projections and gleaned the best of the good ideas and put a couple of the wackier ones on the side for later review.
      In the end, her team had two equally viable solutions to the problem, both could be done 'down and dirty' and more or less on the cheap considering the multi-million dollar scope of the project. Darcie and her inner circle worked up a presentation that presented both ideas in equal light as well. In the end the overall working group was about evenly split as to which they thought was the best.
      The executive sponsors and corporate wheels took both examples as written and carried them to NASA for evaluation. Before it was over with, Darcie's hand written note about how she had a gut feeling that Design 2 was better was being read by the chair of the Senate science committee. But before the report made it that far, Darcie had moved on to a couple of new projects.

      Then, out of the blue, she got a call.
      She was to appear, notes in hand, at a hearing of a House and Senate conference committee on Space in a couple of weeks in Washington DC.
      Darcie was furious. She was hard at work on her next project and found the concepts and designs fascinating and wanted to continue. Instead she had to go back to something she considered old news and brush up on her information so she could answer their questions.

Washington, DC
"Yes, Senator."

      She flew to Washington a couple of days early to meet with the Chair of the committee and a couple of the other key members to discuss aspects of the project that would not be mentioned in the open session.
      Darcie felt strangely calm sitting at the table with a few others from the various interested parties.
      She introduced herself to the committee then explained her role in the project.
      But after only a few questions about the scheduled topic the Chair asked her a question about another project she had consulted on in brief a year or so before.
      All she had done was to review the proposal as a courtesy then reply with a few suggestions. A couple of the suggestions had totally redirected the project and changed the focus of the research.
      "Yes sir Senator. I remember it quite well." Darcie answered.
      "Is the design to reach a significant percentage of the speed of light feasible given our existing technology?"
      "No sir."
      "Please explain how you can be so certain, Ms Moore."
      "I have some experience with designs that go back several decades, some are still workable designs. However. Ion drive as we currently understand it is interesting, and for small vehicles such as probes to the outer planets it is quite likely the most workable solution. But, for a larger manned craft, it is impractical. The acceleration curve for a vehicle of the mass required would be so slow they would never get there. To employ ion engines large enough to increase it would mean that over half the mass of the craft would be engines."
      The committee members looked at each other, then another member asked the follow-up question.
      "But you said you are familiar with workable designs using real world technology."
      "Yes ma'am." Darcie said.
      "Please explain."
      Darcie looked around. "I believe the information I have is... proprietary."
      "If we need to issue a subpoena for the information we can. If that will alleviate any confidentiality problems. It will not be released."
      "They involve both fission and fusion, some designs use both in sequence. It would be better if I were allowed to go get the information so I could show you the designs."
      "Are they nearby?"
      "Yes Senator. In Chevy Chase."
      "I'm not aware of a research facility over there."
      Darcie's speech became slightly broken and halting. As if she were speaking while half asleep. "They are in a vault. At the Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase. Maryland. I know where to find it. And I know the combination. The plans. The blueprints. Are there."

Chevy Chase, Maryland
Under the Stairs. Behind the Vent. Around the Corner. Beneath the Floor.

      The vault had started out life in Houston, as a small safe built into a bookshelf.
      Then it moved to California, then to Las Vegas where it grew to a meaningful vault. When the Institute was first built it was moved there and placed, under specific written instructions, in an almost inaccessible location. Now what had been no larger than a home fireproof box was large enough to stand up in. Complete with a single wooden chair and a small wooden table with a single lamp, again, per the carefully written instructions.
      Later, when the new headquarters was built the vault was moved again. But the basic access procedure was maintained, including the rather curious instruction that the entrance be located under, 'the northernmost stairway'.
      Nobody that had handled the vault knew all the contents other than the instructions were very clear on one fact. It was to have NO CASH OR GOLD in it whatsoever, for all time.

      Per the instructions of the Chair one of the Congressmen from the committee escorted Darcie to a large van where they met up with brace of US Capitol security officers and a couple of staff members.
      Once everybody was on board the driver, a uniformed police woman set out for Chevy Chase.

      The guard at the institute seemed to be expecting them. The van parked in front of the main entrance where they were met by a distinguished looking man in a suit.
      "Good afternoon, Congressman, Ms Moore. I'm Doctor Ginn. I'll show you where it is."
      Darcie startled at the name. She looked at him with almost an error of total disbelief.
      "Yes. I am that Doctor Ginn." He smiled. "The last time I saw you was...." He paused. "Longer than I want to think about ago."
      "Yes." Darcie said.
      "Please. This way." The doctor indicated them to follow him.

      They walked quite a way through the building until they came to the end of a hallway.
      Dr. Ginn opened the door and held it for them.
      "Under the Stairs, Behind the Vent, Around the Corner, Beneath the Floor." Darcie said softly.
      "Yes." Doctor Ginn said. "Just as he wished. This is the only access without explosives."
      "Does anybody here have the combination." Darcie asked.
      "Not here. Per his instructions the combination is in three pieces known to only the members of the board. No one member has more than two sections. It hasn't been opened in a dozen years."
      The Congressman looked at her. "But you know the entire combination?"
      "Of course."
      She motioned to the large ventilation opening under the staircase. "Can somebody take that down?"

      A maintenance man with a drill removed the screws holding the grate to the wall with a look of bemusement. He had heard the rumors of course, but had never followed up on them. Darcie asked for him to give her a regular screwdriver before she borrowed the police officer's flashlight. Then she got on her hands and knees and crawled into the opening like she knew exactly where she was going.
      She did.
      The Congressman took a deep breath, then motioned for one of the officers to follow him and went after her, Dr. Ginn brought up the rear.
      The ventilation duct went around a corner before it turned and went straight up. High above you could see daylight coming in from one side through a louvered opening.
      Darcie paused only a second, then she examined the floor of the duct. "Here." She said to the Congressman. "Give me a second."
      She pried at the seams with the screwdriver, and fairly soon the piece of sheet metal she was kneeling on was loose. She moved to one side and lifted it up, which exposed a bare piece of plywood.
      "OK. Where is it?" The Congressman asked her with an edge to his voice.
      "Here." She said.
      The plywood was not nailed down. She used the screwdriver along one edge and pulled it up. Which revealed a large steel door with a recessed combination lock and a couple of heavy handles.
      Darcie just looked at the Congressman without saying a word. Then she bent over the dial to obstruct his view and began turning it.
      Except it didn't open on her first attempt.
      "Oh, forgot one detail." She said to herself. The numbers had to be entered backwards for it to work. The last security precaution.
      This time it worked.
      "Help me. It's heavy." She said.
      It took her and the Congressman some hard effort in the cramped space to get the door open. But it finally came up and leaned back on its massive hinges.
      Beneath them was a large dark hole.

      Darcie shined her light down into the gaping opening to reveal a ladder along one side. She reached over and began to descend. Part of the way down she flipped an old switch and a dim yellow light filled the chamber. A couple of the aging bulbs failed to work.
      "Nobody else has ever seen this from the outside." Darcie said as she climbed down. "It was to be built in stages. Then the previous work concealed by those that came after. It is fire and bomb proof. The building could fall down around it and it will be secure." She stopped at the bottom. "There. Come on down."
      By the time the Congressman joined her Darcie was looking through the contents of the room.

      Far from what one would expect in a vault, this one did not contain works of art or items of great historical significance. Instead, it contained information in many different formats. An old fireproof filing cabinet sat in one corner with hand written labels on the drawers. Shelves occupied three walls. The other was cabinets of various sizes. Darcie opened one of the cabinets and took out a large folder and a metal tube, then she sat on the chair and opened the folder.

      "This is what we are after." She said after looking at some of the material. "Here is your spacecraft." She closed the file and handed it to the Congressman. "We'll need this too. The blueprints." She gave him the tube.
      "OK." He said and handed them up to the officer who in turn gave it to the Doctor.
      "And we'll need...." She paused and read the labels on the drawers. "In here." She opened one and flipped through the contents. Then she selected a file and took it out. "Theories and research on lightweight radiation shielding." She handed it to him and continued looking.
      The Congressman looked at the folder. "This was done in 1955."
      She stopped looking at the titles of the folders and looked up. "Yeah. So?"
      "How could you have known?"
      "Sir. That is a bigger secret than the existence of this vault." She looked around and picked up a small portfolio, she opened it and looked through it.
      The Congressman saw several cards and photos as she turned the page.
      Darcie paused for some time and stared at a partially discolored photo of an attractive young woman on a boat. "She was something else." Darcie said to herself.
      It was a memory of a special person from a lifetime ago.
      The Congressman could read the name printed along the bottom of the picture. 'T Moore /49' it said.

Washington DC

      "This hearing will come to order." The Chair said tonelessly. "These proceedings are secret, no record will be kept. Do all of the participants understand?"
      "Yes sir." The people in the room said.
      "Now." The Chair paused. "I don't even know where to start. Maybe you can give us some background so we can get our feet under us to proceed. Ms Moore, Doctor Ginn, if you don't mind."
      Darcie cleared her throat and leaned forward to the microphone.

      "Senator. If I told you, you wouldn't believe me. I myself don't believe it. But yes. The blueprints and plans you see before you were penned by Mister Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. in the nineteen fifties. They are for what he then named the Advanced Manned Interplanetary Voyage Craft. Except at the time, our science and technology were not advanced enough to build it. But Mr. Hughes was a man of vision and foresight, he knew that it Could be built, someday, and that day was close enough for him to begin work on it."
      "Hughes did all of this? And then squirreled it away for the future."
      "Yes sir."
      "Then how did you.... a woman who wasn't even born when these drawings were done, know where to find it?"
      "Like she said. You wouldn't believe it." Doctor Ginn said.
      "Try me."
      Darcie paused. Her mannerisms changed before their eyes, her gaze became almost maniacal, when she spoke next her speech was sharp and slightly clipped with a trace of a Texan accent.
      "Sir. A good part of the woman before you IS Howard Hughes." She stopped and glared at them. "Or at least. The Legacy of the Man he was."
      The room became so still you could hear the breathing of the Chair being picked up by their microphone.
      "Hughes." The Chair said. "It would appear he is still trying to run the country."
      Darcie smiled a grin that spoke volumes. "Trying Senator?"

End Legacy Project

[Note: All rights reserved, including the right to further publication. Distributed copies to proofreaders and editors remain property of the author. No infringement of copyright is intended. All events are fictitious, all historical persons (especially Mr. Hughes), as well as various corporations, hotels, etc. did exist, NO DISRESPECT or disparagement to him / them is intended.
Email- dr_leftover{~at~}themediadesk{~dot~}com     Selah ]
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