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The Sterne Files 1/4/2021 10:45pm
"Wait, so, let me get this straight. Karl and Helga were the bad guys all along?"
Mr. Sterne sits at his desk. It looks like the desk in his office, and the bookshelves behind it. But it's a big room with an open floor plan and there are more of him, and his desks, as far as I can see in all directions.
"Don't look too hard you'll get dizzy," he says, not looking up from the paper he's grading.
"And Karl, he's been, anti-mind noded or something?"
"Or something. Time will tell. Helga's always been the brains of the operation," he says.
He pointed to the series of folders he'd dropped in front of me.
"It's all there," he said. "They were my top students, at the time. They figured out a way to put a pincer movement on this reality by herding it through the contiguous life-ways. Make things come out in their favor. At everyone else's expense."
"And you didn't know?"
"Well I found out before it was too late. We don't try to control everything. Got to give the new generation enough rope. But keeping that kind of thing in check is why we're here."
"We? You mean Psy Corps?"
"They're a part of us. The lowest hanging part. We're actually a few floors upstairs if you know what I mean."
"I don't know what you mean."
"That's the way we like it. And we thought we had Helga and Scientia 2002 safely tucked away, cut off from each other in their various outposts. Didn't realize someone like you might come around and let them out."
I wasn't sure how to take that.
"I'm not sure how to take that. Apparently you weren't reading my journal assignments."
"I've got a heavy class load, okay?"
He and the rest of the Mr. Sternes scribbled away at their desks.
"And... this isn't a... a Triplicate machine, is it?"
"Oh heavens no. What a ridiculous device that would be. But I suppose you, if anyone, could make one." He set down his pencil.
"No, it's just a doorway," he continued. "To the upstairs."
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The Sterne Files 12/28/2020 9:57pm
"Watch out he's loose again!" cried Mr. Sterne.
Karl had made it out of the dogpile and was leaping for the apparatus he and Helga had set up. He grabbed one of the reflector umbrellas and pointed it at me and the Mr. Sterne nearest me.
"I'll do it! I'll do it! Everybody freeze or I'll turn it on!"
All the Mr. Sternes froze. Helga squirmed on the ground with her hands zip tied behind her back.
"You aren't taking Helga and I again, Mr. Sterne. You thought you were safe with us locked away in our little pocket worlds."
"They were nice!" said one Mr. Sterne. "Zebra station has some of the nicest skiing in the multiverse."
"Well hot cocoa and warm chalets are only interesting for so long," Karl continued monologuing. "We wanted to come home. And continue our plans for word domination!"
Suddenly Helga flailed a kick at the Mr. Sterne nearest her and he went down. Karl jerked around to look and tripped over a cable. Sparks flew and a burning smell and Karl went down.
The Mr. Sternes sprung back into action.
"He's out," said Mr. Sterne.
"Electric shock?" asked another Mr. Sterne.
"Unless the anaerobic anti-mind module jumped the circuit," said another Mr. Sterne.
"Oh dear," said another Mr. Sterne.
"Time to call in the Psy Corps locals," said another Mr. Sterne.
"Danielle, I'm very sorry you got mixed up in this," said Mr. Sterne. "And I'm afraid you'll have to accompany me on a debriefing."
And he took me through the revolving door of the Triplicator.
The Sterne Files 12/23/2020 8:49pm
"ARRRRRRRGH!!!!" Helga lunged at Mr. Sterne, brandishing a tripod. Karl went for the duffle bags and pulled out the largest taser I had ever seen.
"You kids just hold on a minute, uh...." Mr. Sterne retreated back into the Triplicator, and as soon as he passed through the revolving door, three more of him came out.
"What's all this? What's all this?" they said, stopping short of Helga's threatening pose and stumbling into each other.
"Owwwww!" cried the first one as Karl's taser connected to his chest.
Then three more Mr. Sternes stumbled out of the Triplicator, then another three.
"It's Karl!" cried one Mr. Sterne.
"And Helga!" cried another.
"They've gotten loose!" cried another.
"Get 'em!" cried another.
"Oooof!" BAM! Pow! Zzzzzap. "Ouch!" "OOOOOOF."
It was hard to tell exactly what what happening, with more and more Mr. Sternes filling the room.
"Zip ties?" called one Mr. Sterne, near the dogpile.
"Right here!" called another, rummaging around Mr. Sterne's desk.
The room was getting crowded. But so far nobody seemed to notice me.
"Danielle," said Mr. Sterne. One of the Mr. Sternes. He had crept up behind me.
"What are you doing mixed up with those two?" he asked. "They're a dangerous pair. Are you all right?"
The Sterne Files 12/19/2020 10:10pm
It was after hours, so we knew Mr. Sterne's office would be empty.
"He's got some pretty serious security on his door, but nothing I can't handle," said Helga. "There's an Mk9 Chubb Psychic Manifold around the flys, but I've got amplifiers."
Who knew Helga was also an expert at psychic lock picking?
After a nervous few minutes in the hall, we were in. We shut the door behind us and turned on the light. Mr. Sterne's office was a cramped mess, stuffed with trunks and odd equipment like a grandmother's attic. In the center of the room was big glass box with a revolving door in it.
"The Triplicator," I said.
Karl and Helga were busy unpacking their duffel bags.
"What's that?" I asked.
Karl and Helga looked at each other.
"Just a little something that will help us keep track of Dr. Sterne," said Karl.
I watched them setting up tripods and etheric reflector umbrellas, a series of psychic transducers and finally a peculiar heavy duty box, which could only be...
"An anaerobic anti-mind module? This isn't a tracking device, it's a--"
"Mr. Sterne is too dangerous. He has to be stopped," said Karl.
This was more than I signed up for. We were already breaking a lot of rules sneaking into his office like this, but, I hadn't come to... cripple his mind?! What were Karl and Helga doing?
"Helga? Karl? What are you doing here?"
We all turned to look.
It was Mr. Sterne, who had just emerged from the Triplicator.
The Sterne Files 12/13/2020 9:31pm
Triplicating yourself isn't exactly illegal. But it is something you tend to keep secret, you know? Like, for instance, how many people do you know who triplicate themselves? See? People do it but they keep it on the down low.
And it fit a pattern of behavior with Mr. Sterne. He apparently doesn't age, but apparently it's a secret. And he left the Scientia Club from 2002 marooned in a dozen different worlds, and he kept that a secret too. And now he triplicates himself to teach classes every afternoon, and must, ewww, un-triplicate himself every afternoon before he goes home? All in one again? No wonder he keeps it a secret.
I mean, teachers are allowed to have their own private lives, I guess, but he sure was unfair to Karl and Helga and the Scientia Club from 2002.
That's who I'm really doing this for.
And that's why we broke into Mr. Sterne's office.
The Sterne Files 12/6/2020 8:12pm
"Ok so what about him appearing on the surveillance tapes?" Helga asks.
We saw him in the Scientia building, near the admin building, and in the parking lot, all at the same time. We isolated the footage.
"He is a popular teacher," I said.
"What's his class schedule?" asks Karl.
We dig up his schedule. It's really hard to follow, with how the different Scientia tracks are built.
"Ok," I said. "Uh... that was on a Thursday.... On Thursday afternoon he teaches Psycho-evolutionary Anatomy, Time Dilation, and Telekinetic Dynamics. All at... 2 o'clock?"
"Sounds like he doesn't like morning classes," Helga says.
Sure enough, on the surveillance tapes, Mr. Sterne arrives at 12:30pm every day in his fancy red sports car. Alone. Just one of him gets out.
"Not the clown car I was expecting," says Karl.
"His office! It's like his changing room. It must be where he triplicates himself! C'mon let's go!"
The Sterne Files 12/2/2020 9:32pm
Birth year: ????
Birth place: ???? (He has some kind of light accent. Could be German?)
Area of Academic Focus: Scientia
Years at Psyhigh: 83
83? Which means he started teaching in 1937?
Yes. I've gone through all the annuals. His hairstyle changes. Maybe he gets a little older and a little younger looking sometimes. But there he is, every year, leading the Scientia club, dressing up on Rag Day, accepting various awards... every year back till Psyhigh Annual 1937.
The Sterne Files 11/26/2020 11:02pm
And thus began my investigation into Mr. Sterne. I’ve now switched my AP project to officially documenting the improbable and demonstrably dangerous existence of this Psyhigh icon. This is part of the High Security Compartmentalized Study Plan for Potentially Explosive Inquiry (HSCSPPEI), which means access to my research is highly restricted. Especially from Mr. Sterne.
Use read-only access code cmDyl67y04mfX
The Weather Station 11/5/2020 11:02pm
"You know him?" Helga asks.
"Mr. Sterne is my advisor. He helped me get my Scientia scholarship. It's in my very first post. Don't you read my journal?"
"We've been out of touch," Karl says. "But he was old when we had him. He must be ancient now."
"No," I reply. "I mean, he's 'old' but he's not like, a grandpa. Great hair, actually. We can probably find him on the security cameras. I can access them from here."
Access to the school network is primitive, but the underlying technology is compatible. It takes me less than a minute to bring up the cameras on multiple screens and start scrolling through them.
"There," I say. "That's him."
The hallway in the Scientia building near his office. He's heading to the bathroom maybe.
"You can tell his walk. Like he owns the place."
"Like this guy?" Helga asks. She's pointing at another screen, near the dumpsters behind the admin building.
"Well... yes," I have to admit. "That looks like him too. They have the same tweed jacket. He wears that every day."
"And here?" Karl asks, pointing at a feed from the parking lot. Walking to his car, same proud stride, same tweed jacket. Flowing mane.
"That's him too," I say.
Helga chews her thumbnail.
"Looks like Mr. Sterne has been busy," Karl says.
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The Weather Station 10/25/2020 11:27pm
Soon, Karl and Helga had all the other lost teams back in the lab, methodically making contact with each one, then zapping them over onto the reception pad.
There was Teresa and her team from Camel Station, which had been marooned on a sweltering desert world. Ryan and his team were from Frog station, which had been stuck on a planet where it never stopped raining. And Erin's team from Eagle Station, where the wind never stopped blowing; and Tara and her people from Tiger Station, a jungle planet where the vines grew so fast they'd rip a building apart in weeks; and Cody from Rhino Station, where the weather was so absolutely perfect every day it had almost driven his team mad.
My little abandoned weather station was becoming quite crowded.
"So, this station was never built to control weather, but to seek out parallel worlds with the most extreme weather, as... a kind of way to map the multiverse?"
"Exactly," said Karl, enjoying an energy bar from a locker in the mess.
"Aren't those a bit stale?"
"Not when you've had nothing to eat but snow cones and snow ice cream for 18 years."
"Well, you can eat a lot better than that back on campus. The cafeteria isn't THAT bad, especially since they've started bringing in cooks from--"
"We're not going back," said Karl.
"Not going? But you've been lost for so long! Marooned! Exiled."
"Exiled. Exactly. It wasn't an accident we were abandoned. You said it yourself--no mention of a lost Scientia club. No record of our experiment, or our disappearance."
"Yes, well, now that you mention it, I was wondering..."
"Who was supposed to bring you back? Who was holding down the fort here at the base station? What happened to them?"
Helga gives Karl a glance.
"Mr. Sterne," Helga says.
"The Scientia club sponsor. He was a science teacher."
"Uh..." I say, looking Karl and Helge in the eyes. "He still is."
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