With his laptop hanging in a strap from his shoulders, Daniel typed in a quick test-phrase.
"Hello, my name is Stephen Hawking."
What an ingenious idea. Nobody would suspect that it was really he, Daniel Arming, and not the wheelchair-bound physicist. Without straining his voice, he allowed himself the tiniest chuckle. Like this, he should be able to communicate nearly as effectively as he had before the accident.
He had gotten the idea when he told his parents about what had happened, and found that text messages were superior to voice calls. After the awkward conversation was finished, he went on the internet to see if there had been any news from the CERN Control Center. Since the last uploaded article was about how the LHC was "ready to run at maximum capacity tomorrow", he assumed the incident was still under investigation.
For a moment he felt a tinge of guilt about not having been able to do his job, but he quickly beat it down. He'd already been given more karmic punishment than warranted, and there were more important things to think about than his salary.
He didn't have a car of his own, so he'd be going out to CERN by bus, like usual. He could hardly care less if people stared at his laptop solution - he likely wouldn't ever talk to most of them anyway. Besides, he was an engineer, not a fashionista. In his eyes, if it was practical, it was pretty.
As he walked to the nearest bus stop, he went through the different hypotheses he could think of for what had happened to ALICE.
Null hypothesis: I was hallucinating. There was no alien.
That was the most likely one, but also by far the least satisfying.
Hypothesis A: What I saw was an alien. If true, they probably looked for the most advanced piece of machinery on the planet, and teleported directly to it.
Much more fun, but sadly less likely. If they did have the technology to find ALICE, almost two-hundred meters below the earth, they would likely also not make the mistake of teleporting straight into it. That would also not explain the exceptionally specific timing.
Hypothesis B: It was a direct result of the experiment. It would explain the timing. Subject to the scientific method, it should also happen again if the experiment was repeated, so testing this hypothesis would be relatively straight-forward.
However, not only did that spit in the face of known science, they had no device with which to test it with anymore. Impractical, but he still mentally archived it, just in case.
If A is true, maybe they actually stole the ALICE detector, intentionally leaving behind what I saw? That makes a scary amount of sense...
He finally reached the bus stop, and decided to postpone his conspiracy theories until he could verify that the alien even existed. He would begin his search at the medical station, since the nurses there handled it.
Fauna left the resident psychologist's office feeling angrier than when she had been made to enter. The psychologist had reduced her complex personality to a bundle of observable psychological properties just to prove a point, and Fauna loathed her for it.
"Classic case of an externalizing workaholic with absurd standards," it had been called. Perhaps that was true, but the psychologist obviously didn't understand that sometimes a situation warranted being just that. Not only was it entirely rational for someone to want to give the project their best, but Fauna really wished everyone else would realize that as well. If she could have trusted people to be competent enough to work without supervision, perhaps she wouldn't have been so opposed to the forced vacation.
Unfortunately, she couldn't.
Gnashing her teeth, she started searching for anyone who might be able to give her a quick painkiller. The throbs had intensified proportionally to her heart-rate, which only resulted in yet more frustration. She soon found a trio consisting of Flora, the biologist she met earlier, Christina, who she didn't really mind, but also Tarry, casting doubt over whether or not making the request was really worth it. She had painkillers at home, if she could just get there.
A particularly iffy throb almost threw her off balance, and she decided that ignoring him would be easier than ignoring the world shaking. Walking closer, she picked up parts of what the imported biologist was saying to the doctors.
"... next few weeks, so I'll need you two to assist by supplying equipment, and..."
"I'd like a painkiller before I'm off," Fauna interrupted. "Could I have one?"
As their attention turned towards her, Tarry looked eager to comment Flora's unusual name. Luckily, before he could say anything, Christina acted like a proper doctor.
"Sure, but why? Do you have a headache?"
"Yes, slightly," Fauna responded. She silently admitted to herself that it was an understatement.
"Then, I think we should run a few tests," Christina said. "It could point towards you having a burst blood vessel. With your blood pressure, it wouldn't be surprising."
There's no end to what's wrong with me today, is there?
"No, there's no need for that." Fauna sighed. "I've been meaning to get new glasses, but never had the time."
Not strictly speaking a lie, that last part. Now that she'd been forced out of her office, she would have that time. Quietly, she realized that all the opticians she knew were the kind that worked on quantum optics, not the kind that sold glasses, and she had to allow herself a small smile. Once the headache had subsided, she would find a glasses shop, and... A voice intruded on her train of thought.
"You wouldn't happen to know a lot about animals, would you, doctor Sutler?"
Luckily, it was Christina who talked. Had it been Tarry, the question would have contained at least one bad name joke. Perhaps it even warranted a response.
"No, I'm afraid I don't work well with animals." she said. According to that annoying psychologist, that includes humans...
"Ah, too bad. We were just wondering if you'd be a good partner for Flora here." The lack of name jokes was an unexpected joy to Fauna, and, by the look of things, frustrating for Tarry. "We've been stumped by a certain equine, and...
"Equine is wrong. If you want a similar term, use equid," Flora corrected. "Equine defines a member of the Equus genus, and... Never mind, go on."
"In any case, we need help with some physics," Christina continued. "Now that you've got some spare time on your hands... Want to try helping out with some biology?"
Her instinct told her that this was her cue to berate the wasteful doctors.
"Allow me to remind you what your job is," Fauna lectured with a fake self-righteous expression. "It isn't animal treatment, it's keeping the employees healthy."
"Well... It's also 'our job' to evaluate the medical implications of the discoveries you particle physicists do," Tarry pointed out. "So now we're just doing our part of the research."
Another error she had made was brought to light - the possibility of animal testing had completely slipped her mind. Surely they could have used rats, though. Rats were less costly to maintain than creatures of that size, and using the same money on rats would have provided both faster genetic data and a bigger sample size.
"While I admire your will to further the collective knowledge of humanity, I-... uh, the administration department does not appreciate its money being spent inefficiently."
She felt a little stupid for having been so paranoid. She felt stupid for a lot of reasons. Thinking back to her meeting with the psychologist, she hesitantly decided to try giving some helpful advice instead of just dealing out blame.
"You should use rats instead, you know."
The doctors looked stupefied, as if they couldn't make sense of what she was saying. Flora, on the other hand, got defensive.
"Actually, we have reason to believe that this particular animal could be intelligent. If you'll just-"
"Please. Most humans aren't intelligent." Fauna was mildly amused. "Until that..."
'Horse' wasn't quite right. It had looked far too small.
"Until that pony of yours is able to build a particle accelerator, color me unimpressed."
"It's not a pony!" Flora yelled. "I mean, its bone joints are practically human in flexibility! What more do you want?"
Fauna sighed. She regretted getting involved in an exhausting discussion that didn't really concern her anymore.
"Irrelevant. Look, it's fine if you need a test animal and help from a real biologist, but be economic about it. ALICE isn't going to rebuild itself. In any case, I'm not interested."
After gobbling down a painkiller with a sip of water, she left the medical bay. Even though the throbs had subsided slightly, she didn't feel well enough to drive, so she quickly walked towards the bus stop instead.