Saturday, November 26, 2011

Excerpt from Transmat World

Chapter 21

See Lurchin’ was an object of incredible mental and physical potential energy. For humanity’s collective psyche, it was in the running to become a totem for the ages. Greater than the Saturn V rocket or the space elevators, it represented the hope of mankind to go to the stars, to explore the galaxy and beyond. It could leap tall planetary systems in a single bound. It could go faster than a speeding photon. It was the most magical of magic carpets.
“When are we going to get this heap moving?” asked Rousseau.
“Patience, Grasshopper,” said Enrique.
The display of the outer environment covered the inside of the sphere. An organic light-emitting diode film had been applied to every square inch of interior wall of the ship’s spherical shell and every surface parallel to that wall, such as storage compartment doors, internal struts, and the hatch. Anywhere Enrique looked, the vast cosmos peered back.
He could see the send-off party standing in the large window of the lab looking towards the See Lurchin’. He gave in to an urge to wave even though they were looking at the shell of See Lurchin’ and could not see him. One person waved back. Julie had been watching a monitor showing the pilot’s area while the others looked out the window. Enrique quickly made a funny face only she would see. He could see her pointing at the monitor now and had a completely blank expression on his face by the time everyone turned to look. Now he could see Julie’s fist shaking in the air. He turned on the intercom.
“What?” asked Enrique innocently.
“You know what,” said Julie.
Enrique zoomed in and could see her freckled face turning red, but her eyes sparkled with amusement.
“Children, a little decorum please,” said Vince, smiling to himself, “this is an historic event.”
The countdown to launch was nearly complete. See Lurchin’s powerful battery was fully charged. Hundreds of alternating layers of flexible indium oxide and graphene-based semiconductor film were nested between the inner and outer hulls forming a capacitor with an energy density of several watt-hours per kilogram and a shelf life of years. It was large enough to absorb the lightning energy of many thunderstorms. The graphene acted as a controller, funneling this vast energy store into usable portions when and where needed.
“Battery check—fully charged,” said Enrique, “and that’s a ‘go.’”
The disconnected umbilical cables hung dejectedly under the end of the tunnel-boom as if missing the intimate connection with the ship. Enrique slowly guided See Lurchin’ away from the delicate, rotating mass of 216 Kleopatra like a sparkly black pearl through a molasses of stars. Thruster-test dancing started a thousand yards out. A pinpoint of barely discernable, different kind of blackness was all they could see from the magnified screens in the lab when Enrique hit the button to start a pre-programmed series of jumps that would take him to the vicinity of the mysterious, star-disturbing mass. No one noticed that the See Lurchin’ carried 7,501 spines sticking out of its shell instead of 7,500.

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