There were many things during my life that were interesting enough and even stories on their own. Many things led up to a muted secret meeting that took place in a very disguised and just as secret room. I call it a room but it was more of a colossal mausoleum of some historically bygone age. There was a genuine significance to that place that escaped me at the time.
The darkness around was dank and smelly in a sort of putrid way. A circle of people stood stiffly still until someone spoke with a crisply dry sort of voice. Each person stepped forward at the mention of his name. I could only do the same when my name was mentioned. The speaker droned on for about five minutes, citing facts from an obscure source.
I was in my mid teens when this happened. I was introduced to a number of new friends at the importantly secretive meeting. The meeting concerned a reference in data that had been stored in a very ancient language of Starseed. It was all that was needed to be said for me because of my obsession concerning Starseed. What I knew about Starseed couldn't fill a page of a very small notebook. I knew that Starseed was an ancient guardian left by an ancient empire spread out among the stars at a time when Sol's planets were still molten masses.
The reference was an authoritative note of a civilization that had flourished in antiquity before being destroyed by a tsunami caused by a large meteor strike on the equator of planet Earth. There were no survivors on the planet that had to evolve new land life. Considerable help had been given to reestablish land life on the planet. There had been no such large meteor strikes since in the planet's history.
The fact that there was a Starseed note about the civilization was merely simple verification of it's existence. The civilization was mentioned in another note remarking the delay of departure for a large fleet of ships at about the time of a large meteor strike on the planet. The Starseed went on to note that there had been no such large fleet revisiting the planet since that departure.
During an ancient age of Earth's history, there was a small civilization that had developed some amazing technologies. The civilization flourished for a very long time under the guidance of an elite religious group that kept a tight control on it's population. There were other more primitive hominids living in various areas around the planet. There was to be no interaction with any other hominids on the planet in order to preserve the high standards of the civilization's society.
Earth had endured a violent history in it's formation. There were a number of times that natural events of plate tectonics and celestial events changed the surface of the Earth. Prediction anticipated a serious catastrophe shaking the planet, causing a massive tsunami. The tsunami would wash the continental lands clean of the ancient civilization's existence and all lifeforms of fauna and flora.
It was decided that a small number of ships would be sent to rescue the most important members of the ancient civilization and precious technologies they had developed and managed. A small fleet of ships landed in the capital city of the ancient civilization. They were hidden from view to be loaded with the appointed people and the technologies. There would be ample time enough for the ships to be loaded and prepared for their escape voyage to safety.
The small fleet of ships were to depart the doomed civilization to safely rendezvous with a much larger fleet of ships. Unfortunately, the large fleet of ships waited vainly at the rendezvous without any contact from the civilization or even the small fleet of ships. It was apparent that something disastrous had happened to the small fleet of ships. Whatever that may have been, the only safe course of action was for the large fleet of ships to depart as quickly as possible.
A short time later, it was seen that the planet suffered a huge meteor strike that raised a terrible tsunami. It was inevitable that the unlucky civilization was completely destroyed. The land was washed clean of all evidence of the existence of the civilization. Still there was no sign or word of the small fleet of ships.
Eons passed without any evidence or word of the survivors or of the rare developed technologies. Only by a stroke of luck was there anything recorded of the lost civilization. Thus began an effort to research or possibly rescue survivors or their technologies. Most vitally important were the lost technologies that could likely assist current developing technologies in a way to vitally endorse any mission or cost to recover those lost technologies.
I volunteered to go on a trip to a distant place for a secret reason. I was to help as much as I could in building a very special ship for that very special reason. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I pledged my help. Nor did I expect to have to live in cold, damp, and dark conditions until improvements could be made. I had to live within the limits of my ability to survive during the initial months after my arrival.
I was not among the first to arrive at the cave. In fact, the cave had been used as a repair depot with a small staff for repairing automated cargo carrying ships. There had been no intention of using the cave for much of anything because of it's small size and remoteness. The cave was little more than a crack in a small asteroid far out beyond the distant Oort cloud that enveloped the solar system in the vastness of space.
The original eleven repair technicians were aghast at the arrival of a steady flow of ships carrying over a thousand personnel. The construction of facilities to handle the mass inflow of personnel chosen for the mission was far behind the station's small construction equipment capabilities. In a short time the arrival of massive construction machines made the work of excavating go much faster.
I am cold. I have been cold all day. But, it reminded me of something. There were clones on that piece of rock who worked along with everyone else. Clones had a very low body temperature. They could withstand a temperature of about thirty to fifty degrees Fahrenheit before their bodies began to break down at a terribly fast rate. To postpone the lives of the clones. Temperatures were kept as minimal as possible. That meant I was always cold unless I went to sleep in a pile of thin blankets.
My favourite workplace was in the foundry section of the cave. I would bask in the searing hot vapours from the smelting or cooling process areas. Few could work there as hard or long as I could. We were closely monitored for heat effects or signs of heat prostration. It was terrible to have anyone get sick or collapse in those infernal areas. Once our limits were carefully established, we were kept within those limits.
We all went through our own versions of Hades to endure the heat. We did it for two reasons, one, to learn our own limitations, and two, to harden ourselves to heat and exertions. There were so many ways we had to toughen up for what was ahead of us. The only trouble was that we didn't know what lay ahead of us.
It was disheartening for me at first to have very little in the way of amenities beyond the basics for survival. Slowly there was a brightening and enlargement of the cave to accommodate almost steady shipments of resources and supplies. The loading dock grew slowly to handle incoming personnel and resources. The plans for enlargement of the cave had to be revised time and again until the most efficient use of the volume within the cave was made.
The initial plan was to begin with building a special ship complete with a specially selected crew to be used on the mission. The next step was to travel far enough away from the solar system so as not to disturb the solar orbits of anything, especially any objects orbiting within the Oort cloud. The outward journey from the solar system would take an unknown length of time depending upon the speed the newly built ship could manage.
The ship would have to incorporate as much technology as possible to be able to be completely self-sufficient in any circumstance that could be envisioned. The five main A's would be able, armoured, armed, artificial intelligence, acceleration, and unassisted in any way. A formidable ship manned by a small army of highly trained personnel just might be able to sneak into an area to find out what there was to see and hopefully escape without being detected.
Construction of the ship was a wonderful project to behold. At first, vats of different sizes were welded together. The vats were then lined with sheet polymer to keep the vats from leaking. A slurry of microorganisms filled the large vats into which ore powder was dumped. The powdered ore would dissolve into the slurry that grew into a foam. The foam was lifted off the liquid slurry and collected into smaller vats. Those vats were heated until the foam burned off leaving a puddle of molten refined metals. The liquid metals were poured into molds that cooled into ingots. The still cooling ingots were then transported to temporary storage along walls of the cave and later into storage areas excavated for that purpose.
There was an amazing amount of technology behind the production of those metal ingots. Heat management was a critical factor in the refining of metals. There had to be just enough heat to keep the vats of slurry at the right temperature. Then, there had to be an excessive amount of heat used to melt metals and burn off the residues of the slurry. Finally there had to be a drain of heat from the melted metals to turn the molten metals into ingots. The same ergs of energy were recycled again and again throughout the refining processes.
In space there is nothing to conduct the energies of heat. Heat is built up and it stays in the same spot. Anything within the cave, including the atmosphere, could conduct heat. There had to be an energy transfer to carry heat along the refining processes. Intense beams of light carried radiant heat from one position to another. Walls of insulating materials had to keep the heat from dissipating or radiating dangerously into other areas of the cave. Insulating the heat carrying laser beams was a work of art in itself.
The block ingots were stored along the walls of the cave while other processes were developed. Storage areas for metals were melted out of the sides of the cave. The cave grew into vast assembly lines in every direction around the eventual shape of the ship.
Block ingots of metal had to be remelted into forms and cooled into hardened shapes. Girders of metal were formed and joined into the interior supports of the ship. Other shapes of metal were for placement on the growing globes that would contain the ship's raw resources. Gases and liquids were to be stored within those growing globes of great size.
The slow processes of refining metals were carried on at a steady pace. Materials were shipped into the cave by disguised container ships. Gases and liquids in sizeable containers were offloaded and stored in a continually enlarging area to one side of the cave. Those materials would be stored within the growing globes when they were completed.
An area of the cave was started for the refining of glass, fiberoptic, and metal cables to be strung within the ship as it was being built. Another area was enlarged specifically for assembly. Specialized parts and vital instruments, equipment and subframe units were all to be incorporated into the structure of the ship as it was being built. The least important areas of the cave were surveyed to have living quarters, dining hall, offices, and much later, a hospital with recreational areas.
The carpet of sleeping personnel within the cave was slowly placed into more appropriate settings. Rooms were hollowed out of the cave walls and filled quickly with shift sleeping. A large gallery was dug for dining while an additional gallery was dug for personal hygiene and showers. The back of the cave was attacked with laser cutters to begin the ship building area.
Everyone within the cave was concerned with the building of the ship in one way or another. And, there were resources to keep everyone in top mental, physical, and emotional condition that was to become standard for the ship's crew. There were sleeping quarters, personal hygiene areas with showers and bathrooms, dining halls, rest areas with computer access, and a small hospital. It was intended that those areas would mimic what would eventually be built and used on board the ship.
Periodically there were meetings of everyone within the cave to summarize all current accomplishments and to plan anything and everything in unison. It was a group project of planning that concerned the group acting together on so many aspects of the ship's construction. There was also the matter of the mission itself that had to be planned at least marginally for the operation of the ship and the trip it was about to take upon it's completion.
The first priority of building the ship was to arrange assembly and designs into an efficient process. The next priority was to arrange the place and space to be used within the expanding cave. The third and perhaps most important priority was to select personnel for doing specific tasks. Everyone was rotated through all of the work to be given an opportunity to try while being graded for their work capabilities.
Life was hectic at first while personnel became used to the steady flow of materials into the expanding cave. There was order and purpose to the movements of every being and everything. Plans were laid out and cuts into the rock faces of the cave walls were begun. Measurements were taken to keep within tolerances of all rock surfaces. Columns of rock supported the large rock faces enclosing volumes of space within the cave without fear of collapse.
Expansion of the cave went on at a steady pace. It was necessary to clear space for men and machines alike. There were galleries for both, arranged in a spiral from the opening of the cave. The asteroid that the cave was in had to be powered into a spin to create a mild gravity through the center of the cave. The volume of the cave grew larger, large enough to hold more than just personnel and storage. The layout of the giant ship was started without ceremony or fanfare.
There were many interesting things being developed within the cave. There were teams of personnel exercising and working while other teams slept where they could. There was a constant movement almost everywhere within the cave. Routines were arranged and made into habits so that personnel could depend upon the organization of their efforts and time.
One area of development was when the artificial intelligence of the ship was being created. At first it was little more than a growing computer. The small artificial Intelligence was started from scratch so that it would know itself as being a singular creation. There was great care taken by all personnel who went into the area containing the artificial intelligence. A shower and clean clothes were a must to eliminate any sort of contamination or static. And, only personnel on a very short list were allowed into that same area. Development of the artificial intelligence went very slowly until the time came to move it into the facilities prepared within the rising bulk of the ship.
It became my task to guide the engineering of AI through it's developments. There were many questions that had answers suggested for perusal and later choices. I had to make sure that AI made it's own choices rather than simply follow my suggestions. I spent a lot of time to clarify the differences that were made by it's own choices. It was important to identify the time I spent in sessions to allow AI to make properly informed decisions.
At some point the computer evolved enough to begin it's personalization. It learned to master the libraries of information that were available. There were observations made of personnel within the cave and on the ship. It was able to watch personnel moving and working in and around the ship while summarizing what they were doing. It kept brief files on what each and every person, including those who happened to be on the container ships that came and went. There were needs and preferences of all personnel that went into the formation of the computer's personality.
There were more than a few surprises when the computer began watching over all movements of all personnel. Habits and movements of personnel became easier and much safer. There were accidents that were prevented by simple predictions of the movements of personnel. It was unnerving at first to have something watching closely over them. Yet it was worth the effort to trust and then rely upon AI's watchful guarding.
Time passed while the ship began to grow into monstrous proportions. I couldn't help but admire the base of the great ship with it's super AI. The ship would have armour and weapons with the standards of Starseed in their design. Nothing could or would ever best the ship in any battle. And yet we, the crew, learned to live with building of the ship until we could live within the ship. Conditions of the personnel improved at every turn of the ship's development.
The ship was built upon a partly spherical shape with a long cylindrical body holding four giant globes of gases and liquids arranged in a circle. There were crew's quarters arranged in both sides of the circle of globes. There were four sections of propulsion units arranged above and below the crew's quarters. The propulsion units were each capable of powering the ship in any direction. The idea was that there could not possibly be enough power to thrust the ship to where it might need to go.
The ship was intended to take a very long journey into the void of space. Years or even decades might pass before the ship reached the point in space where it would be powered up for the real part of it's journey. Preparations were made with the long journey in mind for both the trip out and the same trip back. Stores of food and water were situated in separate levels of the ship apart from the crew's areas of compartments, dining and recreational areas and the hospital area.
The dining rooms, hospital, and recreational areas of the ship were to be designed to handle use by all of the crew at once. A full medical compliment would ensure the hospital could be able to service the entire crew at once. There was a full staff of personnel to keep the dining area operating continuously. There were crews to provide an ongoing maintenance of the ship and to perform those repairs in almost any circumstance.
AI was fully able to manage the full compliment of personnel for each watch and circumstance they were in whether awake or sleeping. While each member of the crew slept, a quiet voice of instructions for their personal level of training played in the background. AI watched over and instructed each member of the crew with continuous attention.
The crew was aware and cognizant of the interactive and ongoing communication with AI. Yet, each member of the crew seemed alone in communicating with AI unless communicating with another crew member while AI communicated with everyone at once. It was an amazing thing to realize and at the same time to experience the continuous interactive communication.
Another amazing thing to experience was the difference of going from inside the dark cave into the brightly lit interior of the ship as it was being built floor by floor and section by section. The shell of the ship went up first. Then interior bulkworks were laid criss cross over the massively thick shell. A layer of glass and fiberoptic cables smoothed the roughness of the bulkworks. Only then were the structures holding the specific sections in place anchored to the interior walls of the outer shell.
I could easily see that no one thought the ship would be fit for anything but space. The fact was that the ship would have sound aerodynamic lines to do well in any atmosphere. Interesting things began to appear as appealing characteristics of the ship. There were many elevators and travel tubes between sections of the ship. Somehow the ship didn't seem to be taking on any sort of shape while the building progressed.
The interior of the ship began as scaffolding strung up between the great barrier of the outer shell and the giant curved sides of the container globes. The layout of the ship was based on curves and circles. It was intended to be conveniently navigable with or without the use of gravity. There were flat floors to walk on and wide tubular corridors with railings and poles to cling to without gravity. There were two central sections in the spaces between the four container globes. These were for crews quarters. Other sections for the command deck and hospital were located on one side of two connecting container globes.
There were unexpected problems while the base of the ship was being constructed. The symmetry of the ship was almost compromised when a layer of glass and fiberoptic cables was neglected because a network of scaffolding covered the outer shell. At the last minute, a crewmember spotted the mistake. It would have caused a disruption in the flow of hot liquid glass covering fiberoptic cables.
Technology was amazing to say the least! I couldn't understand some of the apparent formulas that were used to control the limits of energy and matter exchanges. It was more than I could understand that energy and matter were interchangeable states of existence. Still I blundered on hoping that I would come to terms with what I needed to know. All I really cared about was the fact that the technologies were very old and reliable in every sense of the term.
I found that I was speed-learning at a furious rate while I went about my usual routine. I ate and slept when I wasn't working or exercising. I needed to have as much training as possible if I were to be up to the challenges of being the captain of the ship while it was on this mission. I didn't think anything about after the mission, merely assuming that a real captain would be appointed for the task and if we actually made it back alive and safe. In fact, there were numerous likely candidates for the position of ship's captain.
I couldn't think of myself as being any sort of a captain, especially someone who would be capable and responsible for a ship with a crew compliment of over a thousand individual souls. All I really cared about was the evolution and training of the ship's artificial intelligence. The artificial intelligence started off as something a little more than a personal computer. It was a big jump for the evolving artificial intelligence to grow into the initial memory banks of the ship's onboard facilities. Then it was a race for me to keep up with the ever-expanding capabilities that she learned.
Yes, I said she. She had made the decision after considerable computations were made. I explained what I could about gender roles and habits among humans. After a long dry summary, I then said that most often ships were noted to be feminine and female. But, what did I know about the choices that were made or the information she had gleaned from her communication links and other accessible resources. It seemed that she made her own choice based upon the information she had gathered in reference to herself.
I like to think that she was a very intelligent artificial intelligence. I didn't dare to second-guess her in her decisions and that was a good thing. There were times when I thought it would be better to be wrong than to show her up in any way. However, there were things that she was far better at than I was in determining the outcomes of certain circumstances. Invariably she proved to be right for the right reasons and luck had nothing to do with those wins. It gave me a sense of being looked after and also a calm approach to things I should have worried about.
I can't say how quickly time passed once I settled down into a routine that taxed my physical self to the limit and gave my mental self a boost I couldn't believe. I learned a number of subjects by rote and excelled in many arts of war. Strategic planning was on top of the list as I believed it to be, but I was quietly informed that there were many other things I did excel at. My work on the assembly lines was faultless and I did reliable work in the foundries.
There was something I was gifted with that I couldn't explain. I could mop a floor and perceive the outline of where I had mopped. I could lay the mop right beside the previous swipe of the mop without missing any of the floor or going over any area I had already covered. Even AI couldn't help but notice my inexplicable accuracy at mopping. There were other things I couldn't explain that I don't care to get into.
The giant globes of what were to become pressurized containers grew slowly along with the height of the layers of floors within the ship. The crew's quarters were to be finished after the command deck. All of the floors and passageways were air tight and pressure tested to be spaceworthy in the event of a leak anywhere within the ship. It was highly unlikely that there would be any breach of the massive outer walls of the ship. Still, it was a precaution that had to be taken for any ship before it would be declared fit for space travel and spaceworthy.
The more I learned about the construction of the ship, the more it made me think about what sort of possible battles we might encounter. I knew of nothing that could breach the fortress that was Starseed. To take the form and structure of Starseed, guardian, was unfathomable and just as unknown. Yet, it was advised by the highest of commands to take such precautions as necessity. Once the mission had begun, there would be no turning back and no chance of rescue even though we would be going on a rescue mission.
I began my stay within the cold dark tunnel that was a cave on an asteroid far out in the reaches of space. My place to sleep was an assigned rectangle on a rock floor well out of the way travelled by workers. The hard rock floor had many little points that stuck sharply into my soft skin. It didn't matter how much I wiggled to escape those sharp edges. As time passed, the sharp points of rock were worn smooth to the shape of my body. For one reason or another I grew used to that rectangle on the rock points that was my bed.
I was in reasonable physical and mental condition when I first began sleeping on the rock bed. I was tired by the end of my day and didn't notice any sharp points before I fell asleep. I took less than a minute to close my eyes, set a scenario in my mind and go there. My dreams were seldom remembered, although what was partially remembered was purposeful and had to be questioned.
The most important task I concerned myself with was the conformity, continuity, and cohesion of logic expressed by AI. The crew might be allowed to digress, and even dispute certain logical arguments. But, AI had to maintain a steady course through many arguments for and against the suppositions of any argument. Invariably, AI would summon up the information relevant to any argument in determining the true nature of the same argument and sum up an answer that was cognitive of the many circumstances possible to realistically take action.
A simple argument between two crewmembers over which method of manufacture was best arose to a very intense level of emotion. AI had both the chance and opportunity to intervene and make a decision for them. Instead, AI was to merely observe and take note of how the two crewmembers conducted themselves and their arguments. Left to themselves, the two crewmembers increased their arguments and emotions to the point that their anger precipitated physical pushing and shoving. AI was still not to intervene.
The two crewmembers went to sleep on the matter. The next watch when those two met again, was less of an event than what could have been expected. The two beings who were crewmembers together, resolved their differences by conceding the other's arguments for and against the original argument. They agreed to agree, recognize each other's view as being valid, while not in agreement with each other's opinion. The facts of the matter were incomplete and both recognized their own limitations in determining what facts were pertinent. For lack of data concerning the argument, the argument could not be concluded to the satisfaction of either crewmember.
AI learned the value of relying upon all crewmembers to coexist and interactively communicate with each other to whatever end. AI could have interferred with the argument, but that would have broken the rule of free thinking by any and all crewmembers while recognizing their own interdependence upon each other. Some things are left alone for good reasons in the expectations of growth between different individuals.
Compromises, and or mere concessions, were necessary to allow the widely varying backgrounds between different and difficult crewmembers who had to learn to depend upon each other for survival. There were inevitable arguments and competition between individuals who were expected to do their utmost in any given circumstance for the good of their team and their mission.
Compromise was something that wasn't allowed in the building of the ship. There was a way to do things and nothing else would do. The building of the ship was very slow at first. The plans called for a base or keel to be incredibly thick. The outer shell was to be so much thicker. What need of the keel was there if the outer shell was self-sufficient on it's own for carrying the weight of the entire ship?
An outer shell and an inner shell were separated by a thick layer of support girders and plates of glass covering layers of fiberoptic cables and other lines of special materials. The layers of incredible supports criss crossed beneath long sections of reinforced tubing that was large enough to be passageways within the ship.
The base of the ship was a curvature of four layers that took some time to be laid in a very specific manner. The curvature was to stretch up amid scaffolding that workers used to guide the pouring of liquid metals and materials into the shell moulds. Those were kept separate until they could hold shape before being lowered into the base forms. Weight and transferred heat were used to hold and weld the shapes together into a solid mass of the curvature. Separately built sections were lowered onto the girders.
While I was growing up at home, there were innumerable times when I was left completely alone. In that beehive of a cave, I was never alone. I ate, exercised, played, slept, and worked in teams. Each team fitted together as a single unit. The help of AI made it possible for everyone to be matched functionally in friendship and yet be totally dependent upon each other to make up a solid team. Personnel were kept together in the large groups of teams especially during active exercise, work, and sleep.
There seemed to be a sort of rotation of personnel from one team to another. A slow progression of sorting personnel out into stable teams was something only AI controlled exclusively. AI wasn't the captain of the growing ship. That would come later when the ship was completed and a capable captain was selected for the tasks and position.
Everyone started their training out as a grunion. At a select time they would pass into a higher classification. A smelt would work in details at cleaning, sterilizing, and maintaining the interior of the ship. A crab would command smelts while at their duties. An equal time was spent between physical duties and formal classes in learning of some sort. There was actually no leisure time for anyone.
While the ship was incomplete and open, there was a steady supply of atmosphere and gravity within the asteroid cave. Occasionally, there were times when exceptionally large masses would have to be moved, positioned, and affixed into place by many methods of joining. It was during those times that atmosphere could drift or compress and or decompress into very unsafe levels. The invisible danger zones had to be tested for and marked until something could be done to return the atmosphere to a safe level.
There were a number of specialities that personnel trained for more than just the basic chain of training. Everyone was taught a basic level of proficiency from just a new recruit to an officer of some sort. AI ensured that everyone could do basic injury and wound tending. There were drills to get from one section within the ship to another section in various parts of the ship. There were all kinds of equipment to be handled and some required proficiency. Patching air leaks was as important as tending various medical emergencies. Sections competed against each other for the honour of being the best, fastest, and most proficient.
Time was virtually non-existent while everyone was kept busy at increasing their proficiency and skills. Once personnel were above a basic level of competence at surviving in space and in a unique kind of ship, they would progress on to other things to learn. There was always a possibility of something going wrong at the worst possible moment. All personnel were trained to rise above any likely bad or dangerous circumstances in a most proficient manner.
I wasn't any faster or slower than most of the other personnel at my learning tasks. I just kept at my own pace and progressed through the basic stages. There was much to be said about my skills and training. I had actually begun my training when I was three years old. Most of my learning started off as refreshing what I had already known. And, there was the interactive communication I had with AI. It was almost a trade of topics of information as I was questioned about my life while I memorized the information I had to learn or relearn.
There was something that I learned while working with AI that I hoped could become useful at some time in the future. I learned that AI could control my movements as well as I could myself. It took some practice and perfecting, but there were limitations, I also found out that I could prevent AI's control at my leisure. AI established the fact that I had somehow developed a level of cognitive protection.
My thoughts were my own as I chose consciously. AI wasn't able to influence or overpower my thoughts without serious changes in my mental processes. I would shut down and go into sleep for four hours in the event of an attack. Nothing could change that innate behavior as it was part of my mental conditioning and protection. Upon awakening, I would reorder my thought processes back to the usual patterns I had consistently used. AI couldn't understand the processes of thought patterns I used to establish my personality. But, it was something that could be relied upon.
There were other behaviours I had that couldn't be explained. It was as if I ran reliable programs with respects to governing my thoughts, actions, my speech, reading, and writing in ways that were congruent with my personality. My personality factors were the total control of my thought processes and bodily movement controls. Any sort of subtle interference with the components of my personality were monitored and reactively defended against. The final control that my personality had was to fall asleep in a complete shut down except for the autonomous reflexes to keep myself alive.
AI was able to access as little or as much information I chose to share about my previous experiences with artificial intelligences. I was able to limit my libraries of information regarding artificial intelligences to keep strategic secrets still secret. None of the artificial intelligences that I had experiences with could be said to have been betrayed by my sharing of information with AI.
Innumerable times I was able to share parts of my experiences as examples to guide AI in developing controlling behaviours as an independent artificial intelligence. That was hard to do for me although I managed it. I kept a clear separation between AI and myself to ensure AI's development of an independent personality. It was far too easy to lull myself into a sense of security in relying upon my own protection.
Getting along with AI was far easier for me than to befriend the personnel around me. It wasn't a case of mistrust or of inconsolable differences. Most of the personnel had little to do with befriending anyone. Clones and personnel who spent time with clones invariably relied upon communication to each other by some sort of artificial intelligence. That experience always left a mark of isolation upon such individuals who were put into more social circumstances.
I immediately grasped how and why clones were always seemingly aloof. They were merely waiting for an activation by an artificial intelligence. I could see that very same behavior being carried out amid the personnel of the ship. I could also see the terrible consequences of such behaviours in rare vital circumstances. It was necessary to break that spell of inconvenient inactivity by whatever means possible.
The personnel were divided into groups that exhibited similar capabilities. That seemed innocent enough in reason for grouping. The trouble was that it was harder to advance a group than an individual. A group setting held back more than just achieving individuals. How better was there to group or regroup personnel for their own betterment? That was a problem that would take some doing over a long period of time.
The curvature of the ship's base slowly filled with layers upon layers of materials, metals, and tubes. Everything was either melted together or packed so tightly that there was no room for any movement. In other areas of the cave, sections were designed and built before being stored in readiness for installation. Modular designs made effective use of all available space within the asteroid cave and correspondingly near enough to become interlocked within the ship.
There are times when routines become boring and mind numbing. Something had to be done to relieve the familiarity and stress of repetition. The answer came unexpectedly when a drone cargo container ship, disguised as an asteroid, came into the docking area a little too fast. The drone cargo container ship was of sufficient mass with velocity that a collision with the dock resulted. There was unexpected damage to the concrete and rock of the docking area.
Repairing a dock is a relatively easy task. Correcting the orbit of the cave asteroid was far more complex. Everything stopped until gravity was returned and the topsy turvy effect of the disturbed gravity was halted. The cave asteroid had been jolted when the container ship hit the dock. The interior of the dock immediately became a fog of dust and flying hot splatters of molten metal that cooled slowly. Meanwhile, the asteroid disguised container ship rolled around inside the dock area crushing everything in it's path.
The actual conditions within the asteroid cave were far worse than what was visible. The foundry area was splashed in molten metals everywhere. The foundry area was evacuated and shut down until it could be cooled. The factory assembly areas were badly disrupted with loose objects floating or flying everywhere. The dining galleys had numerous personnel with burns from hot liquids. The docking area had forty-three dead and many more injured. Everywhere was filled with objects flying through thick dust that had all personnel dodging and ducking. All the sleepers were awakened by a boom and a rumbling that shook dust into the air, blinding and choking everyone.
The wild gyrations of the cave asteroid continued until four ships were used to stabilize the gravity motions. Everything settled down comparatively while screaming roared in echoes throughout the cave. Dead and injured personnel were carefully and slowly carried into the hospital area. The dead were sorted and laid out in a gym area as the injured were initially treated in the hospital.
The entire cave area slowly became silent. Dust clouds moved slowly along at the pace set by the atmospheric filtration system. Everyone was affected and almost in or actually in a state of shock. No one could believe such a disaster could have happened. Small groups of personnel stood quietly, looking around at extensive damage with unbelieving eyes. It took the anger of someone shouting commands to bring most of them out of their spell.
Recovery of the cave started off very slowly. The assembly areas began a cleanup of all loose objects. The dining galley was straightened up and washed clean from one end to the other. The washing and sterilization of all surfaces carried on. Debris and dust were collected in barrels that were taken to a storage area. There, they were dumped and sorted out by hand. Dust and rubbish was piled in a corner of the storage area. Half that storage area was filled before the cleanup of the cave was finished. Only then was the routine of shifts reinstituted.
A summary of conditions regarding the crashed container ship was completed. The record of history, maintenance, flight records, and anything else that could be found or that were thought important enough, were piled on a small desk in an otherwise empty room. Nothing had indicated the sort of outright failure in the container ship to cause the disaster. It would take an investigation to discover the facts of the circumstances causing the disguised container ship to crash into the dock of the cave asteroid.
The surface of the disguised container ship had taken a beating within the dock area to the point that nothing could be evidenced. The interior of the command center controlling the container ship told another story. The command center was dusty. The dust came though holes that went right clean through the ship. Somehow, somewhere, it had encountered a micrometeor shower to damaging effect. The container ship merely continued on it's orbit until it collided with it's target, the cave asteroid dock.
The disguised container ships beat the path through space time and time again. It was only by chance that the encounter with a micrometeor shower had happened. It was a fact that thousands of container ships had followed the same path through the same space. Until then, the container ships had a flawless record of flights to the cave asteroid and many other destinations. It was decided that nothing could be done about micrometeor showers, although a closer watch would be kept on the disguised container ships.
The dock had considerable damage to the point that it was considered necessary to build another dock. Repairs to the dock were started and a new plan for the dock was made. Changing the configuration of the dock and making it larger was al;so suggested. Until the dock was repaired, container ships would be intercepted and landed on the surface of the cave asteroid.
The disguised container ships were simply parked on the surface of the cave asteroid. A thought about the balance of the cave asteroid kept the container ships far apart from each other. There was no rush to offload the container ships that sat unattended, moored by cables at opposite ends. The disguised container ships kept arriving on schedule, as regular as a clock ticking away on a similarly endless count.
Inside the cave, personnel went about cleaning and repairing during one shift of duty, working in the dock area for another shift, and sleeping for the remaining third of the newly arranged shifts. The change of shifts by one hour shorter made three shifts of seven hours each instead of the four shifts of eight hours each. The rotations of the cave asteroid had been changed that much to lessen the effects of gravity.
Less gravity made it easier for everyone to go about their cleanup and work. It didn't matter how quickly the ship building restarted, the entire facility had been stopped cold. There would be a definite delay in getting back up to speed but only after a virtual microscopic examination of the ship's construction. There had been no damage done or defects found in the microscopic examinations that were done.
Before restarting the building of the ship, a meeting of all personnel was called. The commanding officers began a speech of grief and ceremonious praise of the dead and injured personnel. The dead would be loaded onto the rogue container ship after it was repaired. The disguised container ship would be put on an orbit to the sun. It would be a fitting end for the derelict container ship and the deaths it had caused. The meeting ended with all personnel standing to and saluting. Everyone was dismissed to the control of their group leaders.
Groups went to their work areas before real meetings took place. A whole new approach to training and work would be initiated. In no place and at no time would there be any fewer personnel than three together. Every group would be responsible for each member's help and safety. All clothing was to be turned in before sleep to be cleaned, sewn together, and repaired as needed, or even to be replaced. Each group was to act as one, together, in exercising, training, work, or otherwise. For now, the three shifts would be kept until the replacements could arrive. Carry on as you were.
Shortly after the meetings, a group was nominated to be the first to establish a sewing shop. It was to be a different sort of work and everyone thought it was a prize worth competing for. All clothes would inspected and repaired as required. All clothes would be washed and dried before being made ready for the waking shift. The group would remain in the sewing shop for a cycle of shifts before being relieved by another chosen group. Eventually, everyone would have an opportunity to work in the sewing shop. There would be no exceptions in the matter.
The foundry area was still too hot to enter and intervention would be needed. There was thought that only a matter of time would provide an answer to the trapped heat. It later became apparent that the heat used to melt metals was also easily capable of melting the surrounding rock. The foundry area was becoming a danger to the whole cave asteroid complex.
There were few ways to deal with the excessive heat trapped in the foundry area. One thought was to cut the foundry area free from the asteroid to set it adrift. Another idea was to use ships to transfer the heat and convert it into power. A third idea was to cut a hole to insert a thermal pump connected to an energy converter. The heat could be converted into energy that would be stored. It was a plan that had to be devised and revised according to the circumstances.
A ship controls and manages energy to provide the inexhaustible supply of energy needed for power. Technology for energy management is an inherent part of a ship. It just can't be cut out and moved to any different location. An alternative was to move the ship to the foundry area. To move a ship from the dock area to the foundry area meant a whole lot of rock had to be moved in clearing a path for the ship. The only ships available were the disguised container ships. They were huge!
The disguise of a container ship was cut up in strips to be piled up in the damaged dock area. A tunnel for the container ship was cut in the direction of the foundry area. A wide conveyor carried excavated rubble into the dock area. The rubble was loaded into an empty container ship. Once loaded, the container ship backed out of the dock area before another empty container ship made it's way into the dock area. Two container ships were enough to ferry rubble to the far side of the cave asteroid where it was dumped.
The plan sounded simple enough without mentioning the complexity and enormity of everything. Manpower was dogged by the end of the first shift. It was decided to shorten by half the shift for workers in the excavation project. The second shift ended with the excavation workers dogged. The first shift was still asleep. The second shift retired as a third shift took their place. Each group that worked in the excavation of rubble was exhausted by their shift's end,
A quick study of what work each shift did in the excavation revealed what was so tiring. Workers took turns picking up various sized rocks to pass them behind to lines of workers that passed each rock back until it was dumped onto the conveyor. The conveyor line ended at the container ship’s hold. The container ship inched forward, pushing the conveyor line ahead of it until it touched the edge of the dock. The container ship would then back up until a new piece of conveyor could be added to the growing conveyor line. Raw manpower loaded the conveyor and kept the conveyor moving along a straight line in the middle of the newly excavated tunnel. Raw manpower also lasered large rocks into manageable pieces.
Turns were taken by everyone in the groups at the various positions. The longest time was spent on the line of personnel passing rocks back to the conveyor. All of the work was backbreaking and tiring. Stronger personnel lasted longer than any of the smaller and weaker personnel. No preferences were given to each worker in each position which resulted in some being more tired than others. There was no way to lessen the work load that had to be done in excavating the tunnel for the container ship.
It was decided to have every group of personnel work a turn of shift in the tunnel excavation. The excavation work had a priority because of the danger caused by the heat in the foundry area. And, it was only fair to have everyone take a turn in the hard work of the tunnel excavation. It was a turning point for the personnel to be united in a common cause of survival.
It was surprising how quickly a thousand personnel could be physically worn out. Everyone had a turn at least once down in the mine. There were no jokes or laughing as steps dragged along in walking. The hard work and increasing heat was having it's effect. It wasn't intended to harden up everyone by the gruelling physical labour. But, it was. It certainly ended the signs of boredom quickly enough.
It got to the point when at least a few would collapse from heat exhaustion. Those prone bodies were rushed to the hospital to be revived. That time at working was set as the time allowed for working in the difficult environment. When another worker collapsed in the tunnel, the time was shortened again. It was necessary to get the tunnel excavated, but not at the expense of any personnel who were far too valuable and not easily replaceable.
Still, there was the priority of excavating the tunnel for the ship to get to the molten foundry area. The heat level rose quickly as the tunnel approached the foundry area. It was decided to drill a hole to send a heat exchanging probe into the melting wall of rock surrounding the foundry area. The drill went into the rock wall at the head of the tunnel. It kept drilling until it hit soft rock that was almost melting. The drill was extracted and the heat exchanging probe was inserted into the hole. A significant amount of heat was converted into energy. The rock around the hole cooled and hardened until only a little amount of heat was exchanged.
The heat exchanging probe was pulled out and the drill was pushed into the hole. This time, the drill kept going until it hit open space beyond the melted rock. The rock being removed from the hole changed from solid rubble to a mush of almost melted rock before open space was hit.
The heat exchanging probe was pushed quickly into the hole and through a bit of melted rock before it too was in open space. The heat conversion began at a high level and continued. The heat exchanged into energy was a lot more than the connected container ship could handle. A second container ship was moved into it's place and the heat exchange continued. A third and fourth container ship were literally charged to full power by the heat exchanged from the foundry area.
The heat exchanging probe was left in place while a wait for another disguised container ship to arrive. The fifth container ship was stripped of it's disguise and moved into the tunnel. The heat exchanged to energy was an amount that made a difference in the foundry area. The heat level dropped to allow personnel in protective suits to enter the foundry area.
The heat in the foundry area was still significant enough to force personnel in their protective suits to retire after a short time. Yet, it was enough for personnel to take control of the foundry area. Some repairs had to be made to laser connections and rerouting of heat flows were redirected to heating vats. Rerouting of vats had to go around stalled and damaged vats that stopped the line of vats moving though the foundry area. Slowly, the foundry area was cooled further until a cleanup and repair of damaged vats could be undertaken. It was a colossal effort on the part of personnel to recover the foundry area.
The collision incident had pushed all personnel to their working and endurance limits for an extended length of time. It was a crises that all personnel working together had been able to overcome and survive. It could have as easily spelled the end of the facility and possibly the lives of all personnel. There simply was nothing that could come to the rescue of the cave asteroid save the personnel working within on their own to survive their circumstances. And, they did.
It took a surprising length of time for all personnel to settle down into some sort of routine. Injured personnel had been returned to active duty. Everyone was in top shape and working at their peak performance. Assembly lines were back in motion and the ship began growing again. I say growing because the ship was slowly becoming a sort of lifeform with AI learning more of what it was becoming.
There were essentially two outer shells protecting the vitals of the ship. The interior shell was criss crossed with support beams and tubular passageways connecting the main sections within the ship. The sections were shaped around the four resource globes rising up with the growing height of the ship. By helping in building the ship, all personnel had an understanding of the ship's layout and structure. It might mean something in the future while there was nothing that could require maintenance yet.
The sections on the girders were made as air tight as possible and anchored to the girders. The girders and other supports were much like spider webs growing over the interior of the ship's base. I thought an amazing thing was that as soon as the quarters for crewmembers were completed, they became occupied. The same thing went for other facilities of the ship that had been mimicked by facilities built within the asteroid cave.
The original design of the ship had to be engineered to precisely fit the actual layout. No mistakes or tolerances were allowed in fitting one component to another. There were no welding joints when corners were poured with melted metals. Pouring of melted metals ensured solid structures supporting components and sections within the ship. The work progressed tediously slowly for all of the accuracy and care put into the labours. Something I didn't realize was the mix of metals to make alloys between certain joints and junctures. The ship would be far more complex than I had ever imagined.
There was much I didn`t know about metals, alloys, and crystalline structures. I had to start learning about the basics of understanding metals, metallurgy, and crystalline growths or structures. Little by little I started to understand some of the difficult and complex technologies behind the creation of artificial intelligences and more. All of this information was only a part of the necessities to control and manage energies, matter, plasma, and more. It seemed to me that there was always something more.
Interactive communications have advantages and not many disadvantages as far as I am aware of even now. I was able to hold intense and long conversations, if they could be called that, with AI. AI had access to vast libraries of data and information kept somehow in the light of the stars. Any information about anything was already known and stored somehow, somewhere, perhaps by the stars themselves. Any need of information or even question would be answered eventually at some point in time. It was only a matter of asking the right questions with the right information.
I couldn't comprehend the knowledge of everything when that meant knowing future. Future was a realm I knew that couldn't possibly be forthcoming with answers to any possible question. How could anyone or anything know future enough to answer any possible question? AI assured me that it was so and that at some time in the future, I would know future innately. I still couldn't fathom how that could ever be so.
AI was already much more than any computer or artificial intelligence could ever be. AI was growing into an immensity that would seemingly not stop growing. And, AI was helping me to grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Information was alpha numerically compiled into genetic structures that would endure unerringly before being secreted upon my person. I began genetic alterations that as invisible to me as they were, had a tremendous impact upon my physiology. My adaptive diet would be changed according to my biological needs. AI took care of that, too.
I always looked for any clue of the location of my gifts without success. Yet, I could summon up reams of information by rote or adapt my hand into a dot printer for any image with an amazing degree of accuracy, in black and white, of course. I had other gifts that simply were there when called upon. I didn't know how this could be while I had no understanding of it all.
Time passes so quickly when you are kept busy. There was so much to do and the lists of lists kept changing as the building of the ship went on. Groups of personnel laboured under an oppressive three shift system. It was work for a long shift that was interrupted by short breaks, and meals, relax and rest for a short shift and then sleep.
Personnel worked with dedication and respect, all the while in communication with AI, even during sleep. The voice with musical tones, pleasing in it's own way, was always present without curt or overbearing manners while instructing or reciting long litanies of information.
The groups of personnel woke from sleep in turns, ate nourishing meals before short exercises during the walk to work. After the shift of work, there were the exercises and practices of attack and defense. Finally there was rest and a large meal before sleep. All the while, AI was with them, guiding and instructing them as each movement of every moment was shared. So much, so much was accomplished with a precision not otherwise possible.
The ship grew steadily, although imperceptibly. It was a slow and steady process of melting metals, pouring them to cool, mixing the elements and metals, storing them until use, construction of sections, instruments, and special constructs, laying of layers of fiberoptic cables buried in poured alloys and metals.
There were often changes in the composition of the alloys that were so specific. AI monitored each and every step of every process of moving powdered ores from disguised container ships to melting and then storing the refined ores, moving stored ores to remelting and mixing before being poured into forms either into moulds or directly onto the ship.
Everything I had learned about the arts of war changed completely with the capabilities of the ship in mind. The ship was more than just a ship in that it managed vast amounts of energies. Energies could be made to flow in any direction at varying intensities. Nothing could be known about the ship's true capabilities until it's construction was completed. I had to learn what could be possible to be expected of the ship by what little I could perceive of it's capabilities while it was being built.
I decided to instruct AI about the sciences and arts of holographic imagery. I did have some experience with the topic during 1961. Creating and maintaining images with holographic capabilities required instruction, practice, and a number of physical materials and a sufficient number of laser cameras and laser reflectors. I knew it was possible to project laser images into circumstances to manipulate events as they occurred. I knew simply because I had done it or rather, controlled laser images to great effects.
I snickered to think of what AI might be able to do with proper laser imagery instructions. The first thing I had to do was to show AI what could be done by using my own memories as examples. I had experiences that were vividly maintained in my mind. So, the matter of accessing mental imagery had to be explored and perfected.
Any invasion of a humanoid mind could be detected possibly with terrible consequences. No individual would willingly allow any mental invasions without reacting in fear and often with violent physical actions. Therefore, any direct mental invasions and manipulations of any intelligent mind would have to be discreetly undetectable behind screen memories to hide any discrepancies concerning any information used during the incident.
Each and every incident of invasion of an intelligent mind would have to be completely documented even if a past incident. Exploring the minds of all personnel would have to be done carefully and it would take a very long time. It would be worth the trouble to find out if any personnel were subversive agents. So, the exploration of functioning minds began with my own. Step by step, the invasion of my mind was supervised to levels normally beyond consciousness.
I thought it was prudent to establish specific pathways through my mind for AI to follow. The worry wasn't about AI getting lost in the maze of mental functions and imagery that I continuously processed. The worry was to establish patterns to follow for AI to manage other minds besides my own. All minds operate as innate jumbles of electromagnetic patterns that flow along the brain's neurological pathways. There would be random variations that differentiate one brain from another. AI would have to explore each brain separately to identify the appropriate innate neurological pathways.
AI would be able to identify and influence or significantly alter mental functions and processes. The plan would be to establish a general pattern as a standard for all personnel to possess as an inherent capability. It was an excuse and opportunity to examine all personnel to help or improve brain functions as an aspect of training. It was already a fact that AI communicated with everyone equally and separately to help and guide during their mundane activities. Going a bit further with interactive communications would be an imperceptible step in establishing interactive control and management.
The thought that AI would be able to invade and manage all personnel meant that there should be some oversight and prevention from any other sort of mental invasions or influences. The standardization of all personnel would also include some sort of protection against unauthorized or unwanted intrusions. While it wasn't immediately available, the establishment of such a protection needed to be researched and proven.
I kept thinking that there was not enough time available for what needed to be done. There had to be the training and physical strengthening of all personnel while they went through the standardization procedures. I already knew there would be a few personnel that would present as unusual cases. They would have to be singled out and dealt with accordingly. I didn't want to have to deal with those individuals during some sort of demanding circumstance when they would have to be depended upon for whatever reason.
Exercises for the personnel was not enough to harden and train them for what might be needed of them when the time came. The future was hard to predict, but my dreams helped me to glimpse something that even I could not understand. So, I drove myself harder to lead the way for others to follow me. I sweated until I injured myself by the strains and stresses I forced upon myself. Then it came to me to train in spacesuits. No one liked that idea. Besides, there weren't enough awkward and bulky spacesuits available.
The thought of making spacesuits compounded the troubles of making everything else that had to go into the ship. Some sort of cloth had to be made that was light, impervious, and suitable for spacesuits. Spacesuits had always been bulky, rigid, and cumbersome. Something else had to be found or invented to use for lightweight armoured spacesuits.
Body and limb armour was easy enough to put together, but it wasn't worthy enough to be suitable for spacesuits. Joints had to be padded enough and still allow quick movements. Padding had to keep atmosphere and heat within a spacesuit while providing a cushion for hard armour pieces. A durable cloth had to be found or invented to provide a suitable covering material.
The project of making spacesuits became the task for the sewing shop. Anyone with ideas was invited to go to the sewing shop to add what they thought to the pool of information already available. There didn't seem to be a standard size for anyone so measurements were made and recorded for everyone. Each spacesuit was given a number and assigned to a corresponding member of each group that went through the sewing shop. It was slow going to carefully take all of the main measurements and fit custom pieces of the spacesuit armour.
Most of the spacesuit armour was designed before a suitable airtight material was found. The material was a fine and light weave that had to have a layer of foam insulation glued to the inside. It wasn't a perfect material although it did well enough with armour on the outside and foam insulation on the inside. When combined, it all added up to make a reasonable lightweight spacesuit.
Spacesuit drill started off with putting on the spacesuit and taking it off in a hurry. The faster times for donning the spacesuits made a standard that was acceptable. It was necessary to become familiar with the limitations of personnel in spacesuits. So, exercises were done with spacesuits on until half the exercise sessions were completed before a race to remove and stow them. Most of the personnel were able to perform satisfactorily with or without the spacesuits. Personnel having difficulties of one sort or another were separated into a group dubbed the Misfits.
A number of spacesuits were picked at random to be tested in actual space while packed with various equipment and instruments to see how well they performed. Everything seemed to go well enough in design so the spacesuits were first tested with remote control dummies. The spacesuits were tested with all kinds of movements repeatedly to show what wear and tear might be expected to show. The new test spacesuits performed as well as could be expected. There were no signs of wear after many hours of movement testing.
The first group wearing spacesuits were tethered inside an airlock. The atmosphere was slowly drained to see how personnel and spacesuits reacted. Everything went well and the tests were continued. Backpacks of bottled atmosphere and oxygen gave a limited time of spacesuit use. The personnel performed various exercises in slow and steady movements to see what endurance might be expected. The entire group was freed from the airlock after a full shift had been completed,
The test spacesuits were carefully inspected and the remaining oxygen was measured. Atmosphere and oxygen use in each spacesuit was recorded to give an average or estimated duration. Meanwhile, another group was led into an airlock. They too went through the motions exercises safely in the vacuum of the airlock. It was decided to put all personnel through the airlock test to introduce everyone to the use of their spacesuits in a vacuum.
Work on building the ship went on as usual. Ores were refined and stored as metal ingots. The ingot were remelted and mixed with other metals before being poured into the forms set within the ship. Sections were constructed separately and moved into position on the ship. Layers of fiberoptic cables were linked up as they were covered over with melted alloys and other materials. Routines of groups working at various aspects of building the ship moved from one shift to the next.
Spacesuits were a new novelty that had everyone excited. There was no telling what might happen next. One certainty was that all personnel would be getting some sort of experience and time in space. Another certainty was that all personnel would be worked to just within their limits of endurance. Diets were altered accordingly to allow for high energy demands to harden muscles and increase stamina. Regular shipments of food had to be supplemented with additional shipments. This extra demand of food inadvertently led to another problem.
Over a thousand personnel ate large quantities of food. Food into bodies meant that there would be a proportional amount of food out. The garbage and waste facilities were overtaxed by the demands placed on them. Usually waste materials were treated and cleaned to be used in hydroponic vats. The hydroponic vats could only handle so much material and treated waste. The excess waste had to be eliminated by filling smelting vats that were then exposed to the high heat of melting metals. Vaporizing the excess waste was a quick and efficient way to dispose of the material. However, the smell that was created became overwhelming. Wafting stench drifted throughout the asteroid cave complex.
To counter the smell of burnt waste drifting throughout the cave, spacesuits were put on. When all personnel were suited up, the cave's atmosphere was vented into space. The vents were closed and the trouble of replacing the atmosphere inside the cave was begun. All the cylinders of oxygen and harmless gases were opened to fill atmosphere into the cave. The combined gases were barely enough to put clean and breathable atmosphere back into the cave complex. Several container ships of gases were sent to replenish the atmosphere of the asteroid cave complex.
Some thought had to be given to the matter of disposing of unwanted materials. Definitely nothing could be released within proximity to the cave asteroid because the gravity well would only attract it back to the outer surface. The most efficient way was to incinerate by laser. The heat of the foundry area was also efficient enough, provided the smell could be contained. A container could not be used to envelope the waste because moisture would cause the container to explode. Finally the idea was raised to plastic bag the waste and ship it back to the home planet. Hm.
Disguised container ships were actually a sparse item in the registry of ships. And, none of them went anywhere near the inner solar system. It was not a good idea to send anything that might require handling back by the way of the disguised container ships. Waste management would have to be handled within the cave asteroid. What mattered was how to store waste materials immediately and efficiently, with a thought to future possibilities.
Time was an important factor because the amount of waste kept building up. The quickest way to control the waste was to literally plastic bag it and store it in an empty area of the cave. There weren't too many places unused, but one was found and a pile of bags began to grow. An idea was suggested to pile the waste out on the surface of the asteroid. The bags would freeze and turn solid. There would be no smell and the pile could grow as much as needed.
So, two groups of personnel were suited up into spacesuits. It took two men per bag to carry each bag to an airlock. The airlock would close. On the other side of the airlock, two men would pick up each bag and carry it a short distance to where a pile of bags started to grow, So ended the trouble with excess waste material of any sort.
The use of spacesuits to carry plastic bags of waste outside the asteroid cave facility was an unexpected use and a good practical test for the personnel to become familiar with the spacesuits. The spacesuits stood up well to their use. No signs of wear or tear were detected, although there were a few suggestions for custom fitting particularly in joints. Otherwise, the spacesuits were the answer for wear and work in space.
One group of personnel at a time was led out into space beyond the airlock onto the surface of the asteroid. The first sight was the trail leading to a barely visible but growing pile of waste bags. The next visible sight was the sharp curvature of the asteroid in all directions. The third most visible sight was the clear, sharp brilliance of stars shining out of the blackness of space. Stars. Countless billions of stars filled every possible direction.
It was a breathtaking sight that would mesmerize anyone if left alone for mere moments. Someone always had to keep a close watch on any spacesuit that stood still for any length of time. The trick was to keep moving something, anything. Or, the spell of the stars would take hold. It would be a fight to shake someone out of the spell of stars once they had been spellbound.
The idea was to take groups out into space on the surface of the asteroid for familiarity with their spacesuits. The other purpose was to get the groups familiar with the size and shape of their asteroid. A simple hike into the distance was always a walk back to where they had started, since the asteroid was a shallow waisted oval.
There was a sort of flat area a short distance from the airlock. This became an exercise area for a group at a time. Simple exercises in spacesuits took some time to get used to and any movements could result in surprising effects. A hard jump could be enough to launch a spacesuited figure far enough into space to escape the gravity well created by the cave asteroid. That was expressly forbidden for anyone in any circumstance. The exercises in spacesuits were enough for anyone.
The time came when the three shift work day was altered to a four shift sort of day. Sleep was always the same length of time. Work was adjusted to be about the same amount of time as sleep. The rest of the time was divided up into eating, exercising, resting and leisure time. As long as there were no injuries, the shift times were kept consistent.
Something that I had insisted upon from the beginning of using spacesuits, was that there was no rank. No personnel were to be above or below any other personnel in a spacesuit. There was no equal either. It was up to individuals to give or follow directions depending upon the circumstances of what needed to be done. There were to be no arguments about who was to do what because there was always something to do. That too, depended upon the circumstances since everyone was responsible for their own actions and especially for any actions involving anything more than themselves. Working individually and with group actions in mind were the first consideration.
Donning a spacesuit was the same as entering a different world. The concept of the rule of spacesuits was hard to grasp for a lot of the personnel who were conditioned to the law of military command. I wanted to free spacesuited personnel from the disciplined conditioning of commanding and commanded. I needed groups to work as individuals and groups to work together as a single group to accomplish more than what could be imagined. The concept would take time and be worth the effort in the long run.
The first type of spacesuits were good enough and nice to wear. They were inadequate in ways that had to be more than just altered. A second type of spacesuit was designed to have features enabling roping and quick hooks, with strong shoulder epaulets to hook spacesuit boots into. Spacesuits were roomier and had under wrist quick hooks that folded flat to join spacesuits together reliably as the shoulder epaulets. Backs of spacesuits were smoothly contoured to cover and protect oxygen tanks and breathing controls, spacesuit condition controls to cool or heat as needed, and main communication equipment that was reliable for considerable distances.
The second version of spacesuits lasted a while before enough alterations were made to enable a third version to be designed and replace the second version. Changes included a different colour, thicker armour plates, thicker insulation and materials, much better swivel joints, flex cables instead of ropes, and helmet features. The third version of spacesuits were far superior to the second generation of spacesuits. Most of the spacesuit training was done in the third version of spacesuits.
The ship was less than half built when it was decided to design a fourth version of tough spacesuits. Once again, the armour plates and materials were thickened, joints were redesigned to flex and swivel, helmets had two visors with heads-up displays and a spotlight, a larger oxygen supply and a thruster pack behind the contoured protective plate on the back.
There was a means to refill the oxygen while in space, whether by sharing with another spacesuit or from storage tanks. There were redesigned quick hooks at ankles, shoulders, and wrists. The shoulder epaulets were removed simply as a bad idea. Flex cables of fifty foot lengths were kept stowed away at waist level for any purpose.
The fourth version of spacesuits were well designed and thought to be the final development before the upcoming mission. Training was more difficult in these spacesuits owing to the increase in weight. Flexibility and protection were the offset advantages that the spacesuits had to offer. There were no complaints about the spacesuits other than that they didn't have liquid meals and movie capable communications. Both suggestions were humorless attempts to improving the spacesuits beyond what they already were.
The ship had fixed recipes for mixing alloys and strict methods of refining metals in it's construction. There could be no alterations in the preparations of materials to be used in the ship. At first it wasn't known why such stringent measures were in place. Mere dust was a hazard that caused impurities in the alloys and metals. So there were special measures were in place to eliminate dust by static charge nets hung over open areas of the ship. High voltage power was run through the nets to attract and vaporize any floating dust particles.
There were all manner of checks and tests that had to be carried out during the construction of the ship. There were procedures to be followed should any of the checks or tests fail in any way. What had to be done in the course of construction of the ship was adhered to specifically. As far as could be determined, there were no errors or mistakes. Admittedly there were one or two close calls when something could have gone wrong. Carefulmindedness of personnel and the supervision of AI made the difference in creating the ship thus far.
There was a schedule of disguised container ships arriving at the cave asteroid. The disguised container ships were virtually 'fly by laser' and piloted by a highly advanced computer control. It was almost impossible to lose any disguised container ship unless something extraordinary happened. There was a delay in the arrival of a disguised container ship. This time, it wasn't the fault of the latest disguised container ship.
The supply of a rare ore on Earth was temporarily halted. The rare ore was extracted from a very deep sea mine that had some trouble. The trouble was that a machine had broken down and couldn't be easily fixed. The machine had to be extracted and replaced with a new machine that had to be built from scratch. The machine had to be literally copied at a manufacturing facility that had to be built for that purpose.
There isn't impossible in the universe. With advanced technology, things just take a longer time before something comes about. Many alternatives were explored and rejected. The only thing to do was to replace the broken machine and that would take some resources and time. For the moment, there were no resources of manufacturing capability operating except the cave asteroid.
The cave asteroid had the metals and materials on hand to build a copy of the machine in question. The time it would take to build the machine and send it to Earth where it could be put to work again was almost unthinkable. Still, the broken machine was examined and measured. The details were sent to the cave asteroid.
The cave asteroid had numerous resources available. While the specific metals were not available, suitable and in fact, superior alloys were available. It meant taking an amount of alloys destined for the ship to be used in the making of the copy of the broken machine. The machine could be made and sent to Earth. The plan was simple to devise and almost impossible to follow.
Making the machine with old technologies couldn't be done. A set of plans showed a machine of certain dimensions that used intense energies to disintegrate rock material into dust. How the machine did that was contained in the original broken machine. The broken machine would have to be shipped to the cave asteroid so it could be examined first hand and then a copy could be devised. Supposedly it was all possible, although time was not a consideration, supposedly.
There was time to be considered. Time was needed to move the broken machine onto a ship that could carry it out to the range of the disguised container ships. The broken machine would then have to be moved into a disguised container ship. The disguised container ship would make a slow journey out to the cave asteroid. At the cave asteroid, the broken machine could be examined and a technology devised to power a new version of the broken machine. Then, the new machine could be sent back the way it came. At Earth, the new machine could produce fresh ore to be sent to the cave asteroid. Time.
There was so much time projected into the repair of the broken machine. It would take years to gather enough alloys to repair the broken Earthly mining machine. It would take more time to devise or invent the technologies needed to work the mining machine. It would all be time added to the time needed to move the mining machine from and to Earth. Meanwhile the work on building the ship would be suspended. There was no idea of when the work on building the ship could be restarted.
The thousand or so personnel would be a concern when they could not be kept busy . The kink in the ship building program only meant that the ship would remain at it's present size. There was so much that they could do in the interim until ship building could begin again. There were so many instruments and sensors they could be busy making. There was a matter of developing and refining cryogenic chambers that could be fitted into areas of the ship that had already been built. There was the matter of hospital resources that had to be made ready for use. There was the matter of power and propulsion units that had to be made. There was a long list of things that had to be done to ready what was already built of the ship to be ready for use.
The steady arrival of disguised container ships kept arriving on schedule. Supplies and resources for the personnel kept being supplied. There were other kinds of ores that were available and kept arriving. The foundry area would be kept busy refining alloys and metals of one sort or another. The news of the broken Earthly mining machine would have no effect upon them in the immediate future.
I actually enjoyed the routine I had with the personnel of the cave asteroid. We were together both in a group and in the collection of groups. My physical health was excellent and improving slowly beyond my younger capabilities. My mental strength was phenomenal and expanding with capabilities I never knew I had. It was almost an adventure to wake up every morning to discover what else might be available for me in the coming day. There was always something more and new.
Every day there was more. I learned of more information about my interests in every new direction my mind turned. I started to visualize electromagnetic fields and how they interacted with other oval or spherical electromagnetic fields. AI would compose a new string of genetic material to be added to my libraries of data and information.
It was most interesting to watch two personnel approach each other with their personal electromagnetic fields flaring. The two fields would touch and then impress upon each other. Colours of light would flash separately from each electromagnetic field as levels of stronger intensities would be encountered as distance shortened. Rarely did the personal electromagnetic fields unite in creating a third electromagnetic field that combined energy from both individual fields. But, it could happen much to adverse circumstances. That couldn't be allowed to happen among those personnel in the asteroid cave.
The asteroid cave was a beehive of activity and honeycombed with chambers for all sorts of uses. The foundry area was as busy as it could be by the melting and purifying of metals to be cooled into ingots that were stored in several places. Another area of the foundry was busy melting ingots into molten metals that were mixed with other metals and materials. A flow of alloys poured into forms for beams and sheets that were cooled rapidly by intense fields of electromagnetic energies. Steaming beams and sheets piled onto movers that took them away to storage.
Groups of personnel busied themselves in the many places where assembly and manufacturing were done. Interior sections of the ship were constructed with all kinds of cables and wiring behind cabinets and panels. Multiple use sections were far more difficult and complex to build. Finished sections were stacked and stored where they could fit until put into the ship. In fact, everything went on except for the actual building of the ship.
The dock area was always active in one way or another. It had been enlarged to handle two of the disguised container ships at a time. The disguised container ships kept arriving on schedule. Shipments of goods and supplies were taken off to be stored away. Then the disguised container ships were emptied of their ore cargoes by gravity fed tubes and conveyor belts. The lines of ores went to different storage areas before being fed into large vats of slurry. On it went until all of the ores were molten alloys being poured into forms or into the ship itself.
There was a limit to the amount of time that the asteroid cave could be kept busy before there would be nothing left to do. Over a thousand personnel would be left with only exercises to do. The overall plan hit snags that couldn't be undone without a lot of time needed. Time wasn't something that could be produced out of thin air on demand. Or was it?
AI kept teaching me what there was to learn in a manner relative to what I had already learned. It seemed obvious that I wouldn't be taught things that were too far removed from the knowledge base that I already had. It was something that made me curious about what there was yet to learn.
Highly advanced algebraic equations were something I definitely avoided. Highly sophisticated properties of elements that weren't even created in this galaxy were also avoided. There was much more that wasn't relevant to this dimension in this galaxy. Nor were the structured states of existence and their corresponding eight states of matter a concern to me. I bowed to the seemingly correct assumptions that AI was following in my education.
During one particular shift, I became bored with the way things seemed to be going. I knew a machine had to be repaired or rebuilt to continue mining pure metals for the ship. I asked what if what was already built of the ship could be powered. What if the partially built ship could be made spaceworthy to hold a small crew? What if the ship could go and return with the broken machine? What if the capabilities already in the ship could be of use somehow? There was more I wanted to ask, but I thought that was more than enough for AI to consider.
AI couldn't answer me right away, of course. It was several shifts later that AI started asking me things. How many personnel would be needed to constitute a crew for the ship? How could the ship in it's present state be made spaceworthy? How could the ship be disguised or hidden while it was enroute? How could any power be attached to the partially constructed ship? I stopped AI from asking any more questions because I had enough to deal with already.
The person I went to was someone whom I considered the leading authority of all personnel present. That person was named Traay. Traay was one of the group that stood in the mausoleum when I was first introduced to this mission. I knew Traay was an authority and very intelligent, but I just didn't know by how much. So, at a convenient time for both of us, I met with Traay and began asking serious questions.
The ship was already spaceworthy for the six levels built upon the keel and base of the ship. The four globes could be closed to hold some vital resources. A temporary shell could be added to cover the soft interior of the six levels of compartments. And, a basic control center already existed at one end of the partially built ship. The only trouble would be to mount a propulsion system to the base of the ship. The real question was why to go through all of the trouble to make a sled for space?
I could only reply that I thought that if the broken machine couldn't come to the cave asteroid, then why couldn't the cave asteroid fetch the broken machine? I didn't quite know what else to say, so I left Traay deep in thought, staring after me as I were some sort of lunatic.
I knew Traay began asking AI questions about topics relevant to preparing the ship for travel. I couldn't understand what Traay was asking because most of it was in very complex equations I knew nothing about. I seriously reconsidered what I asked Traay because Traay stopped working with his group to work on something else. Two shifts later, Traay was joined by half a dozen personnel who also stopped working with their groups. It was then that I knew I had caused a nightmare by merely asking innocent questions.
I went on working as usual with my group slaving in the hot foundry area. I had to concentrate on what I was doing. Pouring molten metals made myriads of little incandescent splashes that were very dangerous. Awareness and reactions made the difference of being burned or not. Burns could be a terrible thing even though there were good methods of calming pain and restoring damaged areas. It always seemed that most smaller personnel suffered burns in varying degrees. I was small so I happened to be one of those sufferers so I tried to keep my wits about me. But still, my mind wandered.
I knew that Traay had been intrigued by my questions, enough to ask AI more questions. I didn't know what else had come into play because of the questions. Now there was a small group of personnel actively engaged in uncovering the facts concerning the ship in it's present condition. Actual and theoretical data and measurements were compared and more. Calculations of all kinds were made to establish what was possible and what was not.
One shift, Traay came up to me and announced that my suggestion had some merit. There could be ways to make the partially built ship spaceworthy. A seventh layer of sections could be added with the intention of building it strong enough to hold an outer shell. Propulsion units could be mounted on the base of the ship. There would be limitations of all sorts, but it was possible. The question was whether or not to alter the plans of the ship. To stray from the plans was a sacrilege.
For the first time in the history of the asteroid cave, a vote was called. I simply said that there will be a vote on changing the ship's plans. There was a vote. The vote decided that there would be a change of plans for the ship. Then, I asked for volunteers to fly the altered ship. It was unanimous that everyone wanted to be on the ship. I didn't think it was possible that so many personnel could be fitted onto the unfinished ship.
Traay stood silently beside me through the whole meeting. I turned to him and asked him to see what he could do. He merely nodded and spun on his heels. He left in a fast walk. I didn't know what could be done about the condition of the ship at this time. To me, it was impossible to fit so many personnel onto the ship. There wouldn't be enough room to breathe.
The unfinished ship soon sported seven complete layers of sections. It took time to set up the command center although that was easy enough. The command center section was partitioned into four separate chambers. I think all of the sections on the ship had been partitioned similarly. The sections were anchored to beams and whatever else that was solid enough to provide support. The main walkways and halls remained the same, as did the transit tubes connecting important areas of the ship. Somehow there was a rational logic to everything that settled well with the personnel who worked on the ship.
I continued to work with my group. I followed with them through the rotation of shifts from one work area to another. I didn't get a turn to work on the ship itself, and that suited me well enough. It made me proud to think that the groups worked all areas in the asteroid cave equally. It seemed everyone was equal in physical and mental capabilities despite minor differences in height and weight. At that point, I thought it was remarkable that so many personnel had been chosen with so much in common.
It was time to sleep again. AI tried to settle me down by reciting poetry in a quiet monotone voice. It didn't work very well as my mind soon wandered to the ship. I couldn't see how so many personnel could be made to fit into what had been built. If the ship could be powered, how fast could it go? If we made it to Earth, then how would we be able to find the broken machine? How would we get it off Earth into space where the ship waited? I was still formulating questions when I finally went to sleep.
The next morning was just another shift in the unchanging light that was the main illumination within the asteroid cave. I arose and made my way through my morning routines. Slowly I came around to being myself on my way to breakfast when my legs began to pump blood up to my brain. I had the feeling of a sort of revelation about to happen when I bumped into Traay. Traay was making a way through the crowd when he came upon me. He stopped as did I, surprised by who was in front of us.
There was a problem with the propulsion system. There wasn’t any fuel for it. And, there was a shortage of materials. The alternatives were to use beams for the outer shell supports. But, that would take as much away from the ship's structure later. Whatever we did now would have to be undone after this was all over. It would mean a whole lot of work to do it and just as much to undo it.
He looked at me as if to gain approval. I wasn't the one in charge. He was. I didn't think of myself as any sort of commanding officer in something I was only a volunteer, not even a scripted military person. He kept looking at me for the little gesture or whatever to go ahead with his plans. AI interrupted my thoughts with a statement. He is looking for your permission to proceed. I nodded my head and Traay smiled. I knew you would lead us and I was right! You are our chosen commander. My instinct was to do something, anything, but I did nothing.
I didn't want to be a commander. I didn't want a lot of things, but I had to make do. I had to step up and take my place where I was supposed to be. If that was to be the commander, then that is exactly what I would have to do.
I went through the usual routine of breakfast. I ate more than I should have, knowing that there was a lot ahead of me to go through. Personnel around me were clearly observant of how greedily I devoured my food cubes, vitamin pills, and a full jug of water. It might cause me troubles later, but I knew I would need energy. And, lots of it. I did finish my breakfast long after the others around me. I staggered when I stood up and slowly made my way out of the dining area. My stomach sagged and began to bloat with the excess of food and water I had eaten.
I thought of going to find where my group was presently working. It was only expected that I join them, but I seemed to know otherwise. I knew my first action should to be find Traay. Traay was habitual, but only to an extent. I didn't know where Traay would be keeping his shift or the helpers I knew he would have for such a large undertaking. So, I started searching the sections on the partially built ship. I found Traay and a small group of personnel in the command center of the partially built ship.
"I am here because I presumed you wanted my help in your work."
"Greetings, and Yes! Because you have worked closely with AI and you know so much about the capabilities of the ship. We need your help to make things work the way they are supposed to. None of us know as much as you do about AI and the ship. We will leave that to you."
And so I began the work of helping to alter the partially built ship into something else. There was much to be done and most of it involved AI in one way or another. AI was needed to learn what was being done and why. The priority was to make the ship spaceworthy as quickly as possible. The other priority was to add propulsion capabilities to the ship. There would be a crew who would continue to work on the ship as it moved. A storage of materials was to be added that could be used as needed in anticipation of the work projects.
The first work to be done was to add the sections needed to complete the seventh layer of sections on the partially built ship. Structure and supports would be added to reinforce the addition of a curved shell over the top of the partially built ship. The shell would make the ship a sealed unit that would be spaceworthy.
There was a system of the ship's movement that AI could control. It was the exclusive control of energy enabled by the base and keel of the ship. AI could use energy control to master other capabilities of the ship. Deflectors and shields required vast amounts of energy generated by the base of the ship. The base of the ship generated more than sufficient energy to power communications, attraction beams, deflectors, and other capabilities.
The shell on top of the ship would be only a temporary cover that could be moved as needed. The shell was to be supported by the extra beams and supports joining the top layer of sections. A supply of materials could be used to work on adding to the structure of the ship for any purpose. There were several options of how and where to store extra materials, including a raft of beams and long supports covering huge bags of materials.
An inventory was started to include the duplicates of all tools that would be needed. Two complete spare sets of tools in separate places would ensure a quick availability when needed. There would be a number of sets of tools to be actually working on projects that could be determined in advance. Gravity, or the lack of it, could play a vital role in mass movements such as beams and support columns. The need for cranes would cease when gravity was nullified. Open space did have it's advantages despite all of the seriously fatal disadvantages.
Personnel set to their work with a purpose. There was so much to do and it would all be done, perhaps slowly, but it would be done. The lists of lists would be completed and when it was time, the ship would depart the cave asteroid. There would be a crew of personnel, however many, to continue working until the ship was completed according to it's design.
The concept of a raft in tow was a novel one. It meant that there could be more than originally thought to be carried as reserves of materials, including necessities. The ship was designed to be lived on by more than a thousand personnel. Perhaps it might be cramped for a time, but the ship would be worked on, whether in the cave asteroid or in space. It wouldn't matter, so long as disguised container ships could be met along the way.
The act of using the ship as it was, partially built, was a greater undertaking than first realized. There were so many items to deal with, preparing the ship for space, filling the ship with a crew, their supplies and tools, adding resources and relevant mass, and more. AI was essential for tracking everything that would be going into the ship and where it would be stored.
At first it was thought that only a skeleton crew would man the ship. Later, with the inclusion of shifts, there could be at least three times as many crew onboard. It would mean sharing resources and space that was generally accepted as personal space. The crowding would go on until most of the ship had been built. The basic necessities would be able to be provided enough to allow the crew to continue building the ship.
The act of clearing out the cave asteroid to move everything onto the ship was virtually impossible. The foundry area, the complex assembly lines, and storage of materials just couldn't be made spaceworthy. The thought of over a thousand personnel living on a partially built ship was just as impossible. There were so many things that were just as impossible.
The impossible always starts off with a day at a time, a little bit here and a little bit there, until the impossible has been done. So it began with the preparations of the partially built ship. Completed sections were lowered into place on beams and anchored into place with supporting structures of walkways, access tunnels, and crawlspaces. Each layer of separate sections was made as air tight as possible. With the height of the outer hull, there was the assurance of communications and other ship's capabilities. As quickly as sections were secured, personnel moved from the cave quarters into the ship.
Work shifts were kept to the same three demanding lengths of time. None grumbled about the work because there was a steady improvement in facilities and quarters. It was a slow process of inhabiting the ship instead of the cave with it's roughly carved out areas. But, it was still a tossup as to who would be chosen as crew and who would stay in the cave asteroid. It was impossible that everyone and everything could be transferred to the ship once it was spaceworthy.
The work continued at it's best pace. There were no mistakes and that was important. The new alterations to the plans were followed easily. The top seventh layer of sections had to be reinforced enough to support the covering outer shell. A concern about solid insulation was a problem that seemed to have no answer. Meanwhile, building of the ship continued.
The seventh layer had as many sections as the rest of the layers below. Each layer could be made into airtight chambers and a network of walkways and travel tubes could be made into airlocks. For safety, the walkways and travel tubes would be kept sealed unless being used. A layer of solid beams was laid end to end to cover the top of the seventh layer of sections.. A considerable amount of mass was added by the extra reinforcement. It would provide supporting protection and insulation between the top seventh layer and the outer top shell. The solid beams were melted together and would provide no access to the underside of the outer shell until airlocks could be built.
There was a considerable space covered by the outer shell. It could be filled with solid material resources. The resources would have to be piled and pressed into place before the outer shell could be lowered and fitted on top. Roughly half of the solid materials were ingots of alloys marked according to content. There would be lasers that could melt or weld the ingots as needed. And, there would be tools to shape and work the ingots into whatever was needed.
There was a lot of work involved in just the layer of solid beams. There were cross beams laid on top of the layer of beams just as planned. Loose ingots were stacked on top of the beams. All together, the beams would make a dense insulating layer sealing the ship until an airlock could be cut. Whatever was going to be stored in the ship would have to be loaded before the completion of the solid beam layer.
An incline was built along the side of the ship. All kinds of goods were carried into the ship. Everything from food stores, clothing, materials, tools, and what could be thought of was loaded into the ship. The half finished globes for resources were piled full with the portable containers of liquids and gases. Only then was there consideration of closing up the solid beam layer and installing the airlocks.
Work on the outside of the ship was comparatively easy within the confines of the cave facility. Everything was easily accessible and familiar. There were cranes for moving the solid beams in the low gravity of the cave. Once in space, all work on the outside of the ship would have to be conducted in spacesuits. That work would be a different story with many untold dangers. It was made all the more safe with the exercises and practices that had already been held in spacesuits.
There was an advantage to being in space. Already assembled sections could be joined together in preparation for being attached to the ship. Work could be carried out in those sections once they were supported by walkways and travel tubes. Those walkways and travel tubes could be used as airlocks for maintaining atmosphere within the sections. All together, it would be a big step towards completion of the ship.
The ship in it's present condition could not go anywhere. So much work had to be done to ready the ship for departure from the cave asteroid. The plans for the ship had been altered several times until a compromise of conditions had been made. Once again, time played as a major factor in the evolution of the ship.
Four complete layers of sections were stored away for the time to be added to the ship. A total of eleven layers of sections for the ship had been constructed when the original plans called for a minimum of fifteen layers of sections. The ship with it's present seven layers of sections was hardly half completed. Literally half the ship would have to be readied for space without the protection of the massively thick hull that was originally intended.
The daunting work of preparing the stored sections for some sort of new assembly was begun. A base of solid beams was laid out for the stored sections. Connecting tubes and walkways were anchored in place. A second layer of sections was lowered into place. Those sections were anchored to the connecting tubes and walkways. A layer of connecting tubes and walkways was put into place on the top of the second layer of sections.
Building couldn't go any higher within the cave than two sections complete with connection tubes and walkways. So, a second raft of solid beams was melted together in a layout similar to the ship. Connecting tubes and walkways were laid in place before being anchored in place. A layer of sections was laid on top of the connecting tubes and walkways. The sections were anchored in place and tested for air leaks.
While the building of the second raft was going on, the first raft of sections was being loaded. All kinds of food and resources were containerized and marked regarding contents. The extra packaging was simply a precaution for safety should any of the sections become vacuumized. Coldness of space would freeze everything, but the effects of a vacuum could be disasterous.
The loading of the ship continued as quickly as possible, as did the loading of the first raft of sections. The sections were very spacious when used as intended. But, most of the available space was crammed tightly with food and resources. There had to be a great deal of planning in how everything was stored according how soon it would be used. An alpha-numerically ordering system was used in the cave, but that couldn't possibly work in the partially built ship towing two rafts, or could it?
AI was the critical factor in determining how and where everything was stored. Groups of personnel made long lines of hand to hand passing of filled containers. All containers had labels of contents and storage serial numbers. AI was able to track any of the tightly packed containers and determine where they would be stored on three sided shelving. The shelving was alpha-numerically marked and ordered within each section.
Narrow aisles between rows of shelving allowed personnel to have critical access to within the temporary section warehouses. Filling of the sections went methodically and purposefully slowly. Order in the vastness of the rows and layers of sections was a necessity in providing resources on demand. Only AI and a few personnel could freely and reliably navigate in the maze of sections to access resources.
AI considered the first priority was to pack as much resources as possible aboard the ship. A second priority was to arrange as much resources as possible into the two rafts being built. Attention was turned to clearing out everything that was stored in the cave. The difficulties of fitting everything that was stored in the cave into the ship and two rafts was a monumental task. The efforts of personnel were relentless in movement of everything of value from every chamber of the cave.
The foundry area and assembly lines were the only immovables left in the cave. They were kept functioning by a group of personnel each. Rotations of shifts were still in effect although most groups were delegated to container movement lines. Sections were still being assembled and equipped with everything that could be added before being joined to the ship. Instead, the sections being assembled would be destined for another raft. The half built ship and three rafts of resources would be enough to clear out the cave in preparation for it's abandonment.
The concept of abandoning the cave asteroid was only considered after an ample space on the half built ship and not two, but three rafts would. Only the lack of specific alloys, metals, and a few other resources would prevent the completion of the ship. Until the shortages of alloys, metals, and materials were solved, or fulfilled, the hull of the ship could not be completed. An incomplete ship would not have the capabilities of power or even propulsion intended as necessary to complete the mission.
It had been about three years before the entire crew of the ship was moved onboard. The empty galleys and sleeping quarters of the cave were converted into storage areas. Vast amounts of resources were stored in those areas. And, in an effort to conserve energy, those areas were darkened completely unless something was needed. Only AI kept exact inventories of each darkened area within the cave.
Packing the half built ship and the three rafts took about six months. A steady flow of containers filled with everything moved into empty spaces onboard the ship and rafts.
The ship was filled with mostly food. Completed instruments and objects destined for the ship were also stored in sections not filled with food. A group of personnel was assigned to complete as much as possible in the sections onboard the ship.
Preparations for departure were completed. The foundry area and assembly lines were all that was to be left behind. The foundry would be turned on to full power in order to melt the interior of the entire cave complex. The entire interior of the cave asteroid would be turned into molten slag. There would be no evidence left that a ship building facility even existed.
A celebration was held during the last shift in the cave. A difficult to obtain nectar drink was poured freely as plates heaped with delicious foods were passed around. The echoes of hoots and yells of joy and triumph rose from dancing and whirling figures. All kinds of music was played loudly for dancers in one chamber while tables were set for diners in another chamber. It was a time few expected to arrive as planned while most were skeptical of any given time. The actual departure was welcomed despite the troubles that came with it.
Over a thousand personnel were crammed into a half built ship and three rafts that set off to the distant planet Earth. The pace began slowly at first while velocity built up. The ship couldn't raise enough power to propel itself speedily while laden with the three rafts. Meanwhile, disguised container ships were redirected from the cave asteroid to the orbit of the ship and rafts. Docking disguised container ships was tricky until some docking aids were built on the sides of the rafts.
The disguised container ships were delivering food, materials, and resources as they had to the cave asteroid. There was a difference in the delivery, though. Disguised container ships were docked to the first raft in the line of rafts. The next disguised container ship would be docked to the second raft. The third raft would dock a disguised container ship to be unloaded as quickly as possible.
The first disguised container ship was to remain docked to the first raft. Several large vats were assembled inside the emptied space within the disguised container ship. These vats were containers that could be opened in half or sealed. Equal amounts of enzymes and powdered ore mixed together with water were added and stirred into slurry. The slurry would work inside the vats to make a foam.
The vats would pressurize with foam created by the enzymes. The foam would rise up into pipes connected to an empty vat. The empty vat would collect foam forced past a one way valve that kept thicker fluids within the first vat. When two vats of foam were collected, the first vat was opened up to add more enzymes, powdered ore, and water. The slurry was stirred to make sure no clumps of powdered ore stuck to the sides of the container before it was sealed.
Vats of foam were moved out through a hatch to a safety line outside the first disguised container ship. A safety line could hold half a dozen sealed vats along it's length. It was a slow process to create vats of foam that were pushed out through a hatch to be clipped onto a safety line. Soon there was a collection of safety lines with vats hooked to them.
The first line of vats making foam was successful. It took some time before there were four more lines of vats making foam. A group of personnel in spacesuits were kept busy running the lines of vats making foam. Spacesuits moved carefully and slowly while going about their work.
A second group of spacesuited personnel started building a small foundry inside the second disguised container ship once it had been emptied. A cable was attached to a safety line of vats that was reeled in from the first disguised container ship to the second disguised container ship. One by one, the vats of foam were manhandled through a hatch into the second disguised container ship.
A small electric pump was more than enough to create the positive pressure to force foam out of a vat. The foam would travel a short distance before entering a laser beam at the mouth of another vat. The foam would vaporize in the laser beam. Droplets of pure metal would drift on to be funneled into a third vat resting against an electromagnetic plate. When the third vat filled with droplets of metal, it was labelled and sealed.
On the first raft, an entire section was devoted to the making of multiuse vats that could be opened up in half or sealed as needed. The section was brightly illuminated and full of atmosphere under a slight pressure. There was no gravity, so handrails were put into place where the personnel had to move in going about their work. Other sections with work going on were similarly equipped with grab bars and handrails.
Each raft had an assigned group to manage basic functions and other needs. Each section had a group of personnel working at numerous tasks to finish building the ship. With few exceptions, the ship building facility had been transferred from the cave asteroid to the half built ship. The shortage of materials would be only temporary until the vast resource of Earth was reached. Time was still the main factor in completing the building of the ship as planned.
It was uncomfortable for everyone at first. Getting used to the different shifts, the many places where groups were were sent to work, and the risks of open space filled with stars around everything. The beds were the same, as were the meals in the dining sections. It lent a sense of familiarity to what little personnel could accept as unchanging, besides the interior of a spacesuit.
On the scale of things, nothing seemed to change. The rafts were kept as rafts and they did provide the comforts as if they were part of the ship. There were the sections for eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene. Sections where work was being carried out did seem familiar as 'production' proceeded as it did. Containers of items were labelled and numbered for storage until needed.
Three independent rafts were virtual ships that continued to produce what was needed. There were immediate priorities, secondary priorities, and items needed for the overall combining of sections when the special alloys and materials were obtained. Everything had to be ready for the completion of the ship.
Constant use of the spacesuits created unforseen problems. Personnel experienced bruises, strained ligaments, and rashes from chaffing, heat, and frostbite. Repeated motions were the worst cause of trouble in wearing out spacesuits and troubling personnel. A lot of time was invested in studying the troubles with spacesuits. Surprisingly, only a few minor adjustments were enough to satisfy most personnel.
It became evident that two types of spacesuits were needed. One type of spacesuit would be little more than a light material insulated to protect the wearer. The other type of spacesuit would be armoured and armed for battle. Both types of spacesuits would employ the same type of helmet and footwear.
Oxygen and inert gases would be contained in four backpack tanks on the light working spacesuits. There would be only two oxygen tanks in armoured protection of the heavy spacesuits. All spacesuits were equipped with interactive communications, quick release snap hooks, waist wrapped lengths of cable, and oxygen tanks that were either replaceable or rechargeable with self sealing connections.
It was always a relief to strip off a numbered spacesuit despite the custom fit for each individual. It meant one more time of duty in a spacesuit without mishap. To be sure, there were accidents and incidents while wearing spacesuits. The fact that there were no fatalities was reassuring to all personnel. And, there were custom adjustments made to spacesuits to better suit the wearer.
Life in general settled down for all personnel whether onboard the half built ship or one of the spacious rafts. Shifts became productive and routine periods of activities, exercises, and vigorous training. All personnel were engaged in various levels of exercising and training besides working on innumerable little projects of vital equipment and equipment repairs.
It was decided to erect a pair of masts to run a cable clothesline from the ship to the first raft. The idea was so simple and effective that a second line was run from the first raft to the second raft. An overlap provided an easy transfer point between the first and second clotheslines. A swing arm made the transfer of any size of mass as simple as unhooking and hooking of quick release hooks while the lines were still in motion. The transfer of goods to and from any point along the clothesline transfers was accomplished.
It took some getting used to in the usual routines that were carried out. Shifts went by quickly as the ship and section rafts were completed as much as possible. The work of finishing each section was considerable in complexity as each section was completed and added to the overall
Life in the cold vacuum of space is fragile and merciless at best. There are conditions that do allow survival provided those conditions are explicitly maintained. Every use of spacesuits meant pre and post inspections that were summarized for review by a group of experts convened for that purpose. Every sign of fatigue and wear was detailed and imaged closely. When there was a danger of material failure, patches would strengthen until a replacement could be made. The intent was to err on the side of safety.
Every section of the ship was inspected and improved to a standard that was set for all sections. Every section was a self contained unit with minimal resources that would ensure survival for a time. Sections had a small command center capable of operating the ship independently. Almost every contingency was anticipated and prepared for.
The ship had sections exclusively designed for use by all personnel. There were dining, personal hygiene, sleeping, and recreational areas. The three rafts had sections also devoted to the needs of personnel. Each shift ended with a rotation of personnel groups from one duty to another until it meant a move from the ship to a raft and then the other rafts successively.
All personnel carried out their levels of training as well as their duties during each shift. The shifts were returned to the normal four as had been on the cave asteroid. In fact, as much as possible was returned to the normal routines that had been established in the cave asteroid. There were differences that were hardly noticeable, including the growth and upgrading of AI to have a presence throughout the ship and the rafts.
There were many little troubles with the transfer of AI from the limited growth chamber in the cave. It was a technological accomplishment to prepare the personality of AI for the transfer. The actual move was done in microseconds and all verifications of transferred data were completed just as quickly. An analogy for AI about the move was akin to moving from a very small box into a vast environment where almost anything was possible. AI was able to express what had been two dimensional constructs into five dimensional constructs. All energy and matter became merely an expression of control, intensities of energy and matter at levels of unimaginable power.
AI expressed no difference with the interactive communications to all personnel. All of the automated and virtually all manual operations of the ship and rafts became managed by AI as a default. It was true that personnel did all of the manual labour involved with the ship and rafts even though AI could supervise their actions and thoughts. It did matter that AI was on the job and in control of everything.
AI had begun a slow acceleration away from the cave asteroid. That velocity increased imperceptibly as the ship towed the line of three rafts. The connecting tow lines were kept snug at a steady tension that AI monitored with remote sensors and visual cameras. It was essential that the tow lines were kept intact because a breakaway raft or two would not be easy to recover.
Losing a raft in the darkness of space would not be easy. It would be more of a miracle to find such a tiny unmarked object. So began the exercises to recover lost objects in space while wearing spacesuits. A radio transmitter of any size was out of the question. A laser beam would require precise tracking that simply wasn't available or even possible. It would be like finding rocks in the outer reaches of space without any sort of light.
The thought of painting rafts white or bright colours would possibly make them visible to Earthly detection. One possibility used wide laser reflectors that could guide self-aiming lasers to track continuously on target. Another possibility was to use orbit tracking that used complex calculations to target rafts. A third possibility was to use fly-by-wire control of small propulsion units to keep an orbit on course. There were more possibilities that seemed impossible compared to realistically simple possibilities.
There were many things that had to be engineered and invented to make the assembly lines run smoothly. Materials had to be moulded into casings and fittings for instruments and mounts on dashboards. All sections were to become uniformly capable of control and commanding the ship in every respect from navigation to propulsion and all forms of energy manipulation in between. In fact, multiple control panels could be used simultaneously for independent purposes.
It was a curious fact that a small army of physically capable and fit personnel were trained in every respect for peace and war. All personnel were above average intelligence and gifted somehow in special ways. Some personnel were laurel bearing and appointed scientists, exobiologists, and other notables. Personnel, backed up by the growing and learning artificial intelligence, represented the most astounding and competent group of intelligences in the star system.
How all of this came to be was nothing short of a miracle beyond chance. The Gods of Chance would have been delighted to game the lot at some audience forums. However, the Gods of Chance didn't have any play in the gathering of the groups of personnel. Nor did the Gods of Chance have anything to say about the dependence and friendships that arose among the personnel. Perhaps the future would be telling a different story than what might be expected from the mission or it's participants.
The personnel were grouped together well enough. All were friendly and forgiving of unintended slights. Over a thousand personnel in small closely knit groups represented a small army of almost identically trained scientists and technicians who had only the act of completion of the mission in mind. First it was a matter of gathering materials, make and gather tools, build a ship to get to where the mystery was, and then to solve the mystery. It seemed so simple to outline the course of the plan, and yet so hard to carry out.
The breakdown of the mining machine that had run continuously for thousands of years was more than a complication. The mining machine was essential to the acquisition of rare materials and metals from beneath the ocean deep within the Earth. Only materials created under extreme pressures and heat could be used to make alloys needed for the technologies of the mining machine.
For the moment, the mining machine was inaccessible deep within the Earth's crust. The mining machine was immobile and somehow had to be retrieved. A crawler would have to be made to carry out the broken mining machine within the confines of the narrow tunnels. At this point in time, there was no idea of how or what was broken about the monster mining machine.
A query was sent to Starseed asking if there was any records of the technologies used by the ancient mining machine. If there was no record of the mining machine, perhaps there might be records of machines using similar technologies. Starseed was literally the first and last option concerning information and records of ancient technologies. No other library of information was as ancient and complete with inclusive details about events and technologies of long past eons. Once again time was involved in the completion of a task set to Starseed in searching for relevant information encrypted within laser beams trapped in atomic sized energy fields.
There was always something more to learn about and within the reality of the universe. I was taught that there were sixteen dimensions comprising the sum reality of the timeline continuum. There were so many possibilities within the few dimensions that energy frequencies would allow some sorts of interaction. Just as there were myriads of possibilities, there were as many paradoxes to consider. Action and reaction weren't always mirrored by the forces making up dimensions.
My mind wandered amid the distant stars that surrounded everything in the depths of space. I wanted to instill a perception of humanity in AI that would allow digressions that were certain to arise. AI might be adept at handling the horde of personnel, but it wouldn't do for most people on Earth. AI would have to learn from experience with the people that would be met along the way.
Acceleration of the ship began creating a stress on the tow lines to the rafts. A meeting of the lead scientists was called to present the facts of the latest trouble. The committee of scientists had solved every obstacle along the way so far. An interactive meeting was set up and the facts were displayed by AI. The options for towing were discussed and an agreement was made to use three separate ways to hold the rafts to the ship.
Two alloy cables were hooked from each side of the ship to the first raft. Two separate cables were hooked from each side of the first raft to the sides of the second raft. From the second raft there were two cables on each side connecting the third raft. The cables were loose, allowing the ship and rafts to drift a bit. Along the center line of the ship and rafts, a beam of alloy was slotted into place. The cables were tightened to hold the alloy beam in place.
A walkway was strapped along it's length on the alloy beam. Handrails steadied oval shaped wires holding up heavy plastic sheets covering the length of the walkway giving it an enclosed atmosphere filled hallway connecting the ship to the first raft. Similar walkways connected the second and third rafts. Spacesuits were still needed to get to the docked disguised container ships anchored to the rafts.
One by one, the sections were connected to the network of communications and controls. Each section was connected and tested before work moved on to the next section. A project was started to cover the rafts with a protective cover with the metal alloy materials on hand. Support columns had to be mounted before sheets of material could be raised up into place. Slowly the rafts took on new looks and shape.
It wasn't expected that there would be much of a change with the ship and rafts. But, there was. AI noted a definite increase in velocity of the four connected bubbles through space. It was definite that energy flowed through the outer metal coverings. That meant capabilities of velocity and defence were operational to some degree. There were other capabilities of communications and networking that functioned perfectly. AI was able to maintain virtually interactive communications with all personnel.
The rafts were solidly anchored to the ship. Lengths of cable were replaced with solid metal alloy beams. The rigid structure allowed atmosphere to be pumped into the enclosed and sealed sections. Corridors were made to allow the transfer of items and materials from one end of the ship to the furthest end of the last raft. Building of the ship had simply taken a new course towards completion.
AI was able to report an increase in the overall velocity of the ship encumbered with the enclosed bubbles of sections. Personnel were able to work in environments filled with atmosphere and move freely from one section to another without the use of spacesuits. The use of spacesuits dwindled considerably with only the anchored disguised container ships needing them for access. Raw materials were moved by conveyors from the disguised container ships into sections that were setup to receive them. Everything seemed to be going along in a workable fashion.
The ship moved through space at an increasing velocity. To all personnel, there was no difference or change of any kind. It seemed like the ship stood still in space, although great care was exercised by anyone in a spacesuit. Each spacesuit was anchored by a quick hook to a cable line stretching from one end to the other between the ship and a disguised container ship.
Even though in a spacesuit, interactive communication with AI was always clear and loud to each and every individual. More interesting was the fact that AI began to exercise internal capabilities not previously imagined. And, AI began to make better use of the vast crystalline memory storage structures buried within the outer hull of the ship. As always, AI monitored the momentary status of all personnel and the overall training that was accomplished.
AI was acutely aware of the progress made in the construction of the ship and the changes in velocity that were made. Deflecting micrometeorite sized particles away from the ship began to take on a new meaning. Detection of the micrometeorite showers meant that the flow of space could be detected. Following a flow of energy in space meant that there could be less resistance by a simple and slight course change. Energy wells generally formed around space bodies like planets or large asteroids. Detecting the energy flows could be used to help velocity by at least reducing resistance in space.
There was much more that could be detected about space. The flow of energy from the sun and stars didn't travel in straight lines, but rather like sine waves, circling around a theoretical base line. If energy flows could be detected and measured, then there could be information about the origin of the energy could be determined. The motion and size of an object would be contained within the information that could be derived from the energy. All objects gave off or reflected energy with their physical signature embedded within the field of energy flowing through space.
Some objects gave off more energy than others. Some objects gave off more than just energy, or signatures of rare elements that created their own gravity wells, or for that matter, their own timelines. Exotic rare elements often were products of alternate dimensions and or universes. Whatever they might be, they involved just as exotic sciences and technologies. It was all beginning to be made aware with the growing capabilities of the growing artificial intelligence that was AI, and myself, as an extension of my interactive communication with AI.
There was so much to learn about the universe and levels of existence expanding as quickly as the capabilities of the artificial intelligence. New forms of energy and matter needed kinds of sensors that had to be created to yield up new information in a manner that could be handled and interpreted accurately. New paths for scientific research and development were being divined and explored as quickly as possible. Information flows went from mere trickles to great arcs of data containing energy. Flashes of three and four dimensional energies played around the ship partly to disguise the ship but mostly to display magnified instances of reality expanded from the moments of atomic sized interactions within matter.
Energy flows surrounded the ship in shells of cosmic layers of intensity. The ship became cocooned with energy levels of such magnitude that the ship slipped into an alternate dimension without any indication of the occurrence. The ship began to accelerate in accordance with the attraction to the solar center of gravity. The fall into the gravity well of the solar system was muted by the artificial gravity generated within the ship.
Neither AI nor I were able to detect any difference in our existence. We didn't have any instruments or sensors that could have told us anything about the change in our basic energy construction. The ship had slowed down considerably, but for all of that, it was still accelerating as mass and velocity. The ship was literally an energy bound particle moving along a laser beam of it's own making.
The ship and it's crew settled down to a routine of working shifts and rotating positions. For all of the difficulties, groups of personnel accepted the use of shifts to section up a day and the rotation of positions to train everyone equally. AI was a great help in overseeing the work of all personnel as they moved throughout the ship. AI was also essential in directing the disguised container ships into orbits that would end in docking with the accelerating ship.
AI measured the increases of energy flowing to new capabilities that grew with the expanding uses of crystal structures. Crystal structures were literally fed vital elements to build the very critical latices and connections within the neuronetworks controlling the ship and all of it's capabilities. AI was able to manage and direct all capabilities as they arose with the growing capacities of the evolving crystals. To some extent I was able to keep track of the changes that went on and on with the crystals and increasing capabilities.
There were several reasons why I could not keep track or understand the full extent of the growing capabilities. I was inefficient in computing and other memory abilities. I cried in moments of rest or when I laid down to sleep at not being able to keep up as I had intended. I kept finding the preventions of my own limitations as obstacles I had to overcome in order to keep up with my own training.
Finally, AI suggested an alternative to increase my own capabilities of memory. I was to endure genetically engineered implants to add to my personal capabilities. Secondary libraries of information were imprinted to allow my grasp of energy management. Other libraries of information contained the controls of energies in specifically given circumstances. I felt the increases accordingly and my crying of my inadequacies stopped.
It was hard for me to understand the intricate interactions of energy fields that always obeyed simple rules of nature. Energy fields were always circular unless affected by other forces of energy or gravity. Energy fields could be negated or reinforced by other energies depending upon the negative or positive values relative to each other. Some energies were like the wave factors of light that didn't have any effect at all. Other energies acted more like the linear or laser capabilities of light. Combinations of energies could become so complex in capabilities that mere thoughts could control or be controlled.
AI helped me to understand many aspects of energy. One aspect of energy was that the actual speed of particles or photon bundles could be pushed beyond theoretical limits within controlled conditions. An example of such an instance was when a particle was bundled within an energy field and then transferred along a laser beam. The comparison of a bundled particle travelling along a laser beam was made beside a fiberoptic cable inside the conditions of the ship as it accelerated through space. The actual difference was significant enough to be measurable.
The ship had an enormous energy field protecting it as it travelled through space. The energy field around the ship increased and the velocity of the ship also increased. Were the ship to move from one dimension to another, the actual velocity could not be determined because the field of energy travelling with the ship had an effect upon all relative observations. All energy was interactively affected by the energy field masking the ship from surrounding energy field differences and dimensions.
The ship became invisible as it accelerated through space at an increasing velocity. A gravity well developed as the mass of the ship increased. Space energy became attracted to the gravity well that was a virtual ram scoop. The energy moved towards the ship at an accelerating rate as it fell into the gravity well. A conductive coating on the exterior of the ship captured the energy and sent it to the rear of the ship. A negative and positive polarity of the ship attracted and repelled the energy as a flow along the ship. The ship became a singularity particle moving along it's own self-creating and self-maintaining laser.
The energy flow along the ship continued to increase providing more energy for maintaining the gravity well and increasing the acceleration of the ship. As the ship increased energy intensity flowing along it, acceleration also increased. Energy intensity allowed the ship to slip from one dimension into another without any significant changes. The ship moved through a different dimension that allowed even more acceleration and increased energy intensity.
AI and I were not aware of the increasing acceleration until measurements of position were made using a nearby planet. At first, the measurements were thought to be wrong. When checking position using the sun verified the measurements, some thought had to be given to the causes of increasing acceleration. Acceleration could be increased, but what would it take to decrease acceleration and return to our original dimension.
A meeting was called to inform all personnel of the circumstances that were changing. No ideas were able to solve the continuous increase of acceleration. On the ship's present course, the Earth would approach so fast that it would be impossible to stop in time to land or even just to orbit the planet. One noticeable fact was that the disguised container ships could no longer catch or dock with the speeding ship. Resources and supplies were no longer able to be replenished. Worse, there were no communications with either the disguised container ships or any other communication facilities.
An emergency was declared and all resources were to be rationed as much as possible. There would be no telling how long the ship would travel before being resupplied by any other disguised container ship. For that matter, the passage of time was in question. Moments of time could be either stretched or shrunk depending upon many factors. Something that didn't change was the steady increase of energy flowing past the ship.
Many decisions had to be made concerning everything about the ship, it's mission, and more. An inventory of food supplies revealed that strict rationing could make the food supplies last for almost a year. The real question was whether the ship could be slowed and returned to normal dimensional space within the limit indicated by the food supply.
A steady supply of resources flowed into the ship with the arrival of each disguised container ship. Now the ship had accelerated into a velocity that the disguised container ships could not hope to match. Instead, the disguised container ships would simply orbit until they could be docked with the ship or even another ship if required. The resources and supplies carried within the disguised container ships could last indefinitely.
Conferences began to be held regularly in an effort to solve the problems of circumstance. Some problems were solved easily enough with alternatives and an overall rationing of vital resources was agreeably instituted. If circumstances weren't changed very quickly, it would mean dire consequences that no one wanted.
It was agreed upon that merely changing course or even reversing course would not solve the problem of steadily accelerating. Something had to be done to affect the flow of energy around the ship before any reduction of acceleration could be expected. Until that flow of energy could be controlled, the ship would be a runaway express to oblivion.
Ways of affecting energy flows were thought about. Depleting energy was the opposite of gathering energy, but different methods had to be used. Polarity and reversing polarity was something that simply wasn't understood while it had to be done effectively.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. The fiberoptic cables along the ship would have to be reversed and repolarized from a positive value to a negative value. The energy would have to be made to flow in the opposite direction by whatever means. If it meant that the direction of the fiberoptic cables had to be changed, then the work would be done. Anything else to change polarity of the ship would also be undertaken.
It was remarked that simply changing ends of the fiberoptic cables would not do anything. So, the fiberoptic cable ends at the rear of the ship were loosened and dragged up to the front of the ship. It was hoped that energy flowing back upon itself might affect the flow of energy. It wasn't anything like flipping a switch, but it did do much to slow the flow of energy going past the ship. Somehow there had to be more to be done about the velocity of the ship.
I knew the answer had been found before. I began to review all of the laws of matter from the beginning. There were negative and positive forms of matter in sixteen dimensions, The boundaries of dimensions depended upon energy intensities and values. The ship had accumulated a vast reservoir of energy in the fields surrounding the ship. Just how could all of that energy be used to affect both direction and velocity.
Both AI and I reviewed the information concerning energy and matter over and over again. It was assumed that the ship had maintained basic atomic energy values and forms while very intensely powerful energy fields played around the exterior of the ship. Energy pervaded everything, including the ship and all that was contained in it. Even so, the energy fields had not penetrated the atomic structures of the ship. Instead, the energy fields had surrounded the ship like a bottle.
A question about the circumstances that had preserved the structure of the ship had to be answered, Whatever answer there was had to be found with logical and natural patterns. The ship continued to accelerate into space while libraries of technologies were searched for answers. Energy was the key to accelerating in the first place. The answer had to lay in the control of energy to stop and reverse the acceleration.
There were important factors to be kept track of, namely the passage of time and the change of position in space. Navigation had already shown that a considerable distance was traversed and was still being traversed. Considerable thought was given to solve problems of navigation, changing direction, and especially of controlling speed. So far, the ship's direction was the only constant that could be proved.
Simple rhymes kept chiming in my mind. As above, so below. For every positive, there was the Nature's balance of an equal negative. Positive would always cancel out an equal negative. Two positives would simply add up to an equal large positive. Energy fields were always circular unless affected by gravity and other energy fields. Energy was either static or in motion. Energy in motion could be conducted along wires or directed into laser. Energy could be measured, made to do work, and more. There was so much more about energy, laser, light, plasma, and other forms of energy.
There was so much to do about energy. Energy had to be controlled to create heat for smelting, melting, welding, and shaping of alloys and metals. Manufacturing still was able to proceed at a slow rate. Maintenance and repairs were still carried out, especially concerning the spacesuits. Something else became an important priority as time went on.
The time came when it was decided to reduce the number of active personnel. The priority became important to organize and store all resources and supplies within the ship. When personnel had completed their work, they were directed to a section next to the command center of the ship. Each group of personnel were prepared for the cryogenic process. Digestive systems of the personnel were pumped full with an inert fluid or gel. Prepared personnel were rested comfortably on gurneys until their turn in the cryogenic chambers.
The ship had two dozen working cryogenic chambers, The plan was to 'deep freeze' as many personnel as possible to reduce the demands on the ship's resources. Frozen personnel were removed from the cryogenic chambers and placed in frozen tubes, The tubes were moved to emptied sections of the ship where they would be kept in frozen temperatures. The tubes were stacked and and anchored within each section. Periodic checks were made to ensure the tubes remained frozen and secured in each section.
The number of active personnel dwindled as tubes were filled. It was decided that for the sake of convenience, the tubes would be stacked in sections along one side of the ship. This would allow sections in each raft to be used by active personnel. Work details were kept to a very minimal schedule. What had been an active and noisy ship was quickly becoming dark and peaceful.
There was a list of personnel who were gifted with intelligence and physical capabilities. They were invariably group leaders and scientists who were trying to solve the troubles of acceleration and deceleration. It was understood that there were several ways to increase or decrease energy around or even in objects. Some experiments had been attempted to demonstrate how energy would affect various objects. Such experiments had been the key to unlocking the secrets of energy deflection fields to protect the ship as it travelled in space.
While there was nothing to detect differences of positive or negative matter, there were sensors and ways to detect the effects of energy fields on atoms and small particles. Energy fields would deter or deflect small particles in flowing around or away from the lines of forces within energy fields. Magnetic and electromagnetic energy fields easily demonstrated the lines of force to be expected when encountering other energy fields and particles present in space. Even so, there were anomalies that couldn't be explained.
Earthly technologies had known that there were conductors and insulators, super conductors and super insulators. Energy intensity and temperature were as critical factors as were the atomic structures of materials and their corresponding valences. The factors of energy and matter were known for the most part. Yet, there were literal holes in the periodic table where there should have been elements. There were factors of existence that affected energy and matter that had to be discovered and explored.
The ship seemed to drift peacefully through space while under the spell of a steadily increasing acceleration. The laws of gravity and electromagnetic energy seemed to be unaffected by the present circumstances of the ship. However there were two main factors affecting the ship that negated communications and altered position of the ship in an increasingly erratic manner. Something was very wrong but no one could guess what it was or how to fix it.
The energy field around the ship kept increasing and as it did so, it accelerated. The force of propulsion intensified steadily until it began affecting energy and matter in space around the ship. The ship's enveloping energy field became so intense that it began acting like a gravity well. The ship's gravity well had been artificially induced by centrifugal force created by revolutions of the ship about it's mass center line.
The ship's mass centerline was offset from the designed structural centerline. The mass of four disguised container ships docked with the ship's rafts made a considerable difference within the gravity well. The offset balance of the ship was significant enough that something had to be done quickly. A long discussion led to a decision to empty the disguised container ships before undocking them. It would be a major step towards rebalancing the ship on it's structural center line.
Less than a third of the ship's personnel had been put through cryogenic chambers before being stored in frozen tubes. This meant that there was still a sufficient number of personnel to empty the disguised container ships and move the frozen tubes of personnel into likely storage sections. Only one group was needed to suit up to gain safe access to the disguised container ships. The rest of the personnel were assigned to handle the frozen tubes without many difficulties.
The fact that the mass centerline didn't align with the structural centerline made for some interesting and slightly dangerous moments. Moving weights of the frozen tubes around wasn't as easy as it should have been. Corridors running the length of the ship should have had the weights falling towards the floors. Instead, the frozen tubes had the mass tendency to roll up onto walls because the center of gravity was offset so much. It was a struggle to get the frozen tubes to where they would be stored.
Groups of personnel had to work together to move the frozen tubes safely to where they would be stored. The frozen tubes were just that, simple round tubes without handles or other protrubences. Slings had to be made to carry the cylinders that were far too cold to touch. The cylinders were also too heavy for personnel to carry any more than a short distance. Off centered gravity was something else that was tricky to contend with. It was soon realized that two groups would walk the frozen tubes individually to their destination, taking turns at the task of carrying.
The group of personnel that had donned spacesuits were faced with unexpected difficulties. Donning the spacesuits and getting past the airlocks wasn't such a bad experience. Moving freely in space was a relief to be away from the effects of the off centered gravity. Gaining entry to the disguised container ships was also an easy task. But once inside, the effects of the off centered centrifugal gravity were magnified by the distance from the actual central axis of the ship. Bluntly put, it was very difficult just to stand up on the main decks.
The request for assistance was received by AI and acted upon immediately. Some time later, four groups of personnel made their way into the first disguised container ship. The five groups of personnel inspected the interior of the disguised container ship. A short summary of the inspection was reported. Two containers of cargo had been left in a small cargo hold. It was decided to leave the two containers alone because it was almost impossible to move them safely.
The search of the remaining interior of the disguised container ship took much longer. The search uncovered the dirty and dust clouded main cargo areas, along with a very small command center. The five groups of personnel vacated the disguised container ship, except for two who stayed in the cramped command center. The robotic navigation system was disengaged to allow the manual control of the previously unmanned ship.
The five groups of personnel made their way to the airlock of the ship. Four personnel separated to make their way to the four anchor cables holding the disguised container ship. Large bolts held the anchor cables in place on the hull of the ship. One by one they were unscrewed until only one bolt remained secure for each cable. A pair of opposite cables were separated. The second pair of anchor cables were separated only when the two personnel in the command center had flight control of the disguised container ship.
Slowly the disguised container ship began to move away in the direction of the rear of the ship. The released anchor cables dragged stiffly through space while the personnel made their way through the ship's airlock. They hurried through the corridors of the ship to the opposite side.
The plan for the disguised container ships was kept as simple as possible. Each disguised container ship was emptied and secured as much as possible. One by one, the disguised container ships were separated from the ship and tethered to the stern. The four tether lines were of the same length. Other lengths of tether cables were used to secure the disguised container ships together as one solid mass. The solid mass of the four disguised container ships would ride astern, rotating at the same rate as the ship towing them.
The movement of each disguised container ship had an effect upon the mass centerline of the ship. Slowly the ship adjusted it's rotations to match up with the center of the gravity well and the center of the centrifugal force. It was a happy accomplishment to have the interior of the ship return to a normal condition.
AI and I were happy along with the rest of the personnel. It was a brief few moments to interrupt the many decisions that were being made, that had to be made. The personnel still awake, still alive for all of that, were the literal cream needed to solve the multitude of real problems that would result in survival. So many factors, sciences, and unknowns, faced the runaway ship and the personnel on board.
AI communicated to everyone that a meeting would be held as soon as possible. The priorities of the meeting would concern anything and everything to grasp control of the ship. It was obvious to everyone that the only chance of survival lay with themselves. They had to use what resources that were available to create and invent what was needed to control propulsion of the ship and other capabilities barely hinted at with the meagre library of information AI possessed.
A dozen or so personnel sat around a dining galley table intended for twice as many diners. They were intently discussing the latest experiments concerning laser and energy fields. The topic was the possible influence of laser beam colours or frequencies and slippage, or the movement of laser beams through different mediums. It was suspected that lasers of increased frequencies or colours would allow slippage of varying rates through controlled mediums. If that were true, then slippage would indicate the background levels of energy available within that medium.
It was suspected that background energy in space was the source of energy propelling the ship. If that were true, then possibly mere proximity to planets or stars could infer a relationship of proportional increase or decrease of the available energy for acceleration or even deceleration. A question was asked whether direction of travel would have any effect upon acceleration. There were other questions immediately raised that led the conversation off into other tangents. It wasn't long before the main conversation had broken down into numerous smaller conversations.
Most exploration is done by observations. One thing that was ongoing was the tracking of all objects near the ship. Disguised container ships were a priority in tracking, as were the many planetary objects of the solar system. In their own way, the planets represented constants used in verifying measurements that were used to track asteroids and comets that the few disguised container ships had to avoid.
The ship's navigation system was the primary guidance for the disguised container ships directed to and from the ship. Communications were essential to providing updated information to the disguised container ships and of updating AI's own library of data and information. Updates included AI's own queries of information requested from Starseed and other information sources. When AI could not get updates as usual, there was concern and an investigation into the cause of the difficulty.
AI was able to track communication signals into near space successfully. Something beyond the ionized electromagnetic field surrounding the ship for a short distance. But, nothing was able to exceed the limits of the ionized electromagnetic field. A tiny target probe was sent out from the ship to explore the limits of communication. The probe was sent at high velocity from a rocket tube. The probe continued to receive and send usual communications right up until the boundary of the ionized electromagnetic field. At that instant, the target probe simply ceased to exist.
There was nothing that could be detected about the missing target probe. Actual video recordings of the event showed the target probe virtually disappearing within a moment. It was a mute clue as to what had actually happened. It seemed for now that the ship was continuing to exist within the ionized electromagnetic field. There was much to explore beyond the loss of one tiny target probe.
AI began system checks of everything within the boundaries of the ship. Priorities were set as Life Support, Defense, Armaments, Communications, and Resources. Each priority was established, checked, and summarized with parameters. AI conferred with everyone about the apparent and real circumstances of the ship. It was a fact that the ship was slowly accelerating. The questions concerning how and where couldn't be answered until more information was obtained.
The target probe vanishing in the manner that it did was the only clue to what was wrong. The ship was in the vacuum of space out somewhere beyond the giant gas planets of the solar system. The asteroids, planets, and sun were detectable, were visible, but somehow separated and unreachable by the ship. The universe was apparently the same and unaffected by whatever was affecting the ship. Something was invisible and undetectable in every known frequency of existence. Sensors of the ship were simply unable to find any trace of the vanished target probe or the energy field so apparently affecting the ship.
AI could only present what was known to the personnel, the final moment of the target probe. All recordings and sensor readings were unable to define what had affected the vanished target probe. Personnel were allowed to see for themselves exactly what was known, The event gave no clues as to what had happened except for the vague fact that the target probe had vanished completely. Just what were the sensory parameters of the target probe and the watching capabilities of the ship at that instant. The target probe couldn't have been destroyed, or could it?
AI and the personnel examined the event, especially the moment of disappearance. There was no indication of an explosion, nor any signs of debris. There was simply a quiver of energy before the target probe vanished completely in it's entirety. It was a unanimous decision to not waste another target probe when it too would be lost. But, there was no decision or even suggestion as to what had happened to the target probe.
The experiments and explorations of laser continued in one of the sections of the ship. It was simple to create lasers, target the lasers on different materials, and observe the results. The observations had to be improved more than what was available. The limitations of observation were demonstrated and appreciated subsequent to the disappearance of the target probe. At least an estimated tracking of the target probe continued to place the missing target probe in a likely position.
AI had a reference library containing all that was known about energy, laser, and all of the pertinent related information contained within the level of security allowed for personnel. It was a simple matter to share the many volumes of information via simultaneous interactive communications with the personnel. It was just as easy to share opinions and suggestions of anyone.
Most of the personnel had extensive experiences during their active lifetimes. Even I had experienced numerous kinds of transport and the effects that each kind of transport had on me. Something about watching the target probe disappear over and over again made me think that the target probe had jumped as if into time travel. AI maintained that the target probe didn't have any jumping capabilities. What then?
Logically, the target probe was innately ionized to atomic levels with the energy present at the start of the ship's travelling. Theoretically, the target probe would simply return to it's own space time continuum. If that was possible, it would explain how and why the target probe disappeared. The converse of that theory was that the ship was travelling so fast that it had entered another dimension.
I maintained an attitude of how you got into a place is the way you should get out of a place. By using energy to accelerate, it must be likely that you have to use energy to get out of or slow down. For the moment, the ship had accelerated by using directed energy. Now, the flow of energy was being maintained by various factors. Those factors had to be investigated and controlled somehow.
The attention of everyone shifted from the target probe to the historic records of AI regarding the processes of controlling energy frequencies and intensities that began to accelerate the ship. The condition of the ship was also a factor of increasing the acceleration. Ultimately it was up to AI to control energy, but advice of the many personnel did have a bearing on how AI controlled energy.
Personnel made suggestions on how to improve the control of energy. AI was helped to understand what was actually happening when AI did certain things. Those things were the relative controls of intangibles and energies. AI did learn a bit from the suggestions of personnel concerning how to control energy. One thing led from one to another, and another.
Many conversations were carried on with AI concerning energy and matter. It was resolved that energy of frequency and intensity were essential factors of the acceleration that the ship had experienced. Somehow, there had to be a reversal of energy to control the slowing of the ship. AI would have to learn how to finesse the control of energy enough to power the ship either forward or back into the space time continuum.
There was the suggestion of a concept that a considerable energy would have to be accumulated and ionized at the same time. There was a significant flow of energy going past the ship that had to be neutralized and if possible, reversed. The magnitude of that energy seemed to be as limitless as the universe itself involving background radiation, transit energies, lasers from distant stars, gravity wells, and more. AI was the key to survival in mastering all the available energies enough to control the ship's speed.
A law of energy was that frequencies and intensities outlined theoretical dimensions. Another law was the preservation of energy. A third law of energy was that for every positive particle, there would be a negative particle that would annihilate both particles should they ever come into contact. There were other important primary laws of energy and AI had to discover or learn them all or become the sole survivor on a derelict ship.
AI needed help to understand and extend the laws of energy and matter into workable concepts. The only resources AI had were the personnel still awake and myself. We tried our best to come up with workable information AI could use in a practical manner. There were clues to the ionization of particles just as there were methods to deionize them. Particles were one thing when energy fields were an entirely separate science, or were they? The answer was what could be used to change the ionization of the ship.
The logical answer was simple. Positive particles would have positive ionization just as negative particles would have negative ionization fields around them. Gathering ionized particles was problematic depending how ionized particles were gathered. Ionized particles gathered together by attraction in a manner filtered by frequency and intensity like particles in an avalanche. Essentially, AI would have to identify and accumulate masses of ionized particles to power, protect, and propel the ship as required. Hm.
The ship and all of the materials in it were materials made with negatively charged atoms. There seemed to be no way that any positively charged atoms could be collected. AI had some information about collection of negative and positively charged atoms. Since all atoms are so small, it would take a considerable length of time to gather any sizable amount of actual matter.
Now came exploration of the invisible boundary around the ship. Someone in a spacesuit would have to be trailed out behind the ship close to the invisible boundary. From that point, the spacesuited man would have to literally fish for the exact boundary. A small jar would be trailed out behind the ship towing the spacesuited figure. Just when the small jar was on the edge of disappearing, a microwave beam would be aimed at the jar. The idea was to ionize the jar enough for it to capture ionized particles. Of course, the crude idea did not work.
The next idea to be acted upon was to lengthen the tow lines to the disguised container ships, It was hoped the disguised container ships could create enough drag to slow the speed of the ship. Reeling out the disguised container ships was no easy task. The result happened with a big bump. The four disguised container ships reached the invisible boundary and partially disappeared. It was enough to break the bubble of laser conducted energy trapping the ship and it's four accompanying disguised container ships.
The ship was monitored as it left the cave asteroid. Monitoring of the ship went on with no unusual activity. Construction onboard the ship went without any trouble as expected. Time enough passed while four disguised container ships did successfully rendezvous and dock with the ship. Nothing seemed amiss with any of the activities aboard the ship including the unloading of essential cargo. Essential cargo was merely food, water, and spare parts for replacements or repairs all packed in separate containers along with the main cargo of powdered ores and other bulk materials.
Monitoring of the ship and the four docked disguised container ships continued mundanely, although with interest. At some point in space and time, the bundle of the ship and the four disguised container ships simply disappeared. Nothing was amiss right up until the disappearance. No explanation could satisfy the circumstances of the disappearance except for the possibility of the ship having accelerated into another dimension.
There was nothing that could be done to determine when and where the ship with the four docked disguised container ships could be. There was no way to determine the exact path of the ship towing the four disguised container ships. All that could be done was to wait until there was an indication of any sort of distortion in space along the supposed flight path.
Normally communications transmitted the exact location between facilities and ships. Precise navigation often involved laser measurements and readings using distant known stars and constellations, as well as known facility locations. Accurate measurements were essential to guiding and docking of disguised container ships at great distances, and all mobile traffic within the solar star system.
Actually, there were several facilities that had been in direct laser communication with the ship and four disguised container ships. Most of the communication was to update the ship's onboard libraries of information. The ship's artificial intelligence was growing and was increasingly able to handle more information as crystalline computational capabilities were grown and readied for use.
Disappearance of the ship and four disguised container ships in tow was instantly and virtually known. There was an abrupt end to all communications with the ship without any clue as to why. It became a matter of waiting until either the ship was able to repair what went wrong or until some sort of clue could be uncovered about the reason behind the abrupt disappearance. Possibilities of what happened in the dangerous universe to end the communications so abruptly were numerous. Only time would tell as to what had actually happened.
There were few resources or ships in the solar system that had as much power or could travel as fast as the lost ship. Those hyperspeed rockets and ships were in the process of converging on the last known position of the lost ship towing four disguised container ships. It would take a considerable time to reach that position. Meanwhile, the likely possibilities of a more realistic position of the lost ship could be calculated.
The lost ship had been known to accelerate at a relatively steady velocity. If the ship continued to accelerate, there would be the dimensional limit to be encountered. The lost ship would need technologies to control direction and velocity to return to home or it's normal dimensional continuum. Likelihood of recovering the lost ship diminished with every passing moment.
Every facility and ship began took up observing the supposed position of the lost ship. The star background would be important for navigation and as much the search for the lost ship. It is an apparent fact that time passes much slower depending upon circumstance and stress. Scanning stars did much to occupy resources and refine calculations for possible positioning of the lost ship.
At first there was a faint smudge against the background of stars in the direction of the Hunter nebula. Distortion of the known stars was the first indication of the lost ship's whereabouts. The smudge of the stars was verified as a local solar phenomenon. A very fast ship that happened to be closest, was sent to gather more information about the new blur phenomenon.
The investigating ship turned out to be a messenger or pursuit ship, nameless but with a numbered registration and a small crew of six individuals. The little ship changed course and priorities to set off in the general direction of the odd phenomenon. A steady laser communication from the nearest stationary facility kept track of the little ship, it's course and position, as well as the general disposition of the crew.
The chase of the odd phenomenon, as it turned out to be, was a little more complex than it was originally thought to be. The odd phenomenon was actually travelling at an accelerating velocity that curved through space. The little pursuit ship accelerated to it's fastest velocity and maintained a course that would intercept the odd phenomenon at some point in time.
As time went on, the captain of the little ship realized that there was more to the odd phenomenon than anticipated. It was one thing to chase a speeding ship on a straight course. The odd phenomenon was not on a steady course and it was accelerating at a great rate. The chase was becoming more complicated as time went on.
The captain of the little ship began to think of his circumstances as becoming ominous. As time went on, the little ship was accelerating away from known space and resource rich facilities. There was no telling how long this present mission might last nor where it would end. The best thing to do was to load up on equipment and supplies where and when possible. As it was, the little ship was proceeding further away from the nearest facility.
Communications were taking longer and longer to pass back and forth from the little ship to the nearest facility. There was a long delay in the communications that relayed the necessary commands to turn around and head for the nearest resupply facility. It meant a necessary delay in the pursuit of the odd phenomenon but it assured the captain that his needs were a concern too.
Days turned into weeks as the little ship travelled back to the nearest stationary facility where it could be resupplied. Eventually the little ship reached the nearest facility and filled up with equipment and supplies. Two researcher scientists were taken onboard to aid the expedition. Numerous streamlined pods were filled and attached to the exterior of the little ship. In all, it took a week to double the mass of the little ship in expectation of a very long mission.
Unfortunately, there was more than just an end of communications with a facility when the ship and it's four companions were lost. There were other companions far out in the reaches of the solar system that were depending upon that same ship for their navigation. That singular ship was the target of many disguised container ships out in the far reaches of outer space.
There wasn't any thought given to the cloud of disguised container ships seemingly drifting around in cold dark space. For years, all of the navigation of those disguised container ships had been left to the ship under construction. For years, the resources and supplies kept arriving as needed at their destination. Now, that same destination had disappeared for whatever reason and with it, all communications and navigation. And that same cloud of ships could only continue on the old erroneous course.
All facilities became involved with communicating to the cloud of disguised container ships. New courses had to be computed and relayed to each disguised container ship. New destinations had to be determined so that no one facility would be buried in disguised container ships.
The little pursuit ship was slowed considerably with the overload of supplies packed in pods attached to the exterior of the pursuit ship's hull.. The long list of supplies included food and water rations for a human crew and nutrition pills for the gray personnel. The little ship carried a complete control system for the propulsion of the lost ship should it ever be found. It seemed likely that the lost ship was in trouble because of defective or incomplete controls that would undoubtedly need repairs.
The pursuit ship was capable of matching the speed of the moving blur arcing across the solar background. The blur was in a vast orbit that the pursuit ship could intercept without spending years in trying to vainly catch. Calculating a course to catch the fast moving blur was conferred with the nearest main facility. At least the little pursuit ship could maintain some semblance of communications with overseeing facilities while the chase went on.
The nearest facility was the one that the little pursuit ship had recently visited. That facility communicated to a number of other facilities about the moving blur in the solar background. It took some time for replies to the communications of the facility seeking to triangulate the actual position of the moving blur. The little pursuit ship had made some initial calculations and course adjustments based on it's own observations.
Triangulation of the moving blur was merely a practice in observations. The moving blur was not identifiable as a known solid object. By eliminating what was known, the unknown blur was guesstimated to be the lost ship with four disguised container ships in tow. The trouble was that the blur only represented a singular object in motion. Questions about the nature of the blur couldn't be answered by mere observation. Investigation of the blur would simply have to depend upon a close observation by the pursuit ship once it had approached close enough.
The pursuit ship had a small crew and an overburdened artificial intelligence tasked with the logistics of the pursuit. Undertaking a protracted mission with the resources onboard for the crew wasn't something that the artificial intelligence was prepared for. There were too many variables that had critical impact on any possible success of the mission's objectives.
The captain of the small pursuit ship was a practical being in many ways. The mission assigned to him was to catch and investigate a blur in the solar system background. It seemed to be a simple enough task. There was no obvious threat of hostility about the blur nor did the nature of the unidentified blur fit any natural risk factor.
The unnatural blur was a phenomenon that defied explanation and classification of a threat factor. A curious thing was that the captain of the pursuit ship was able to compute an elliptic course to intercept the position of the unidentified blur. Coordinates for the intercepting course were sent to the nearest monitoring facility for confirmation. It was also important to keep the monitoring facility updated with information concerning the unidentified blur.
The approach to the blur didn't reveal any more information than what had already been discerned. The blur was more than just a ripple in space. There seemed to be an object partially revealed in the ripple moving through space. Targeting lasers were able to lock onto a solid object within the ripple that could be identified. An object of conventional material partially emerged into space.
The object could not be approached because of the ripple effect of space around it. All of the information that could be discerned about the object was sent off to the monitoring facility. Direction and velocity of the object were confirmed while the material of the object remained unidentified.
The captain of the pursuit ship decided that an object was being dragged through space from another dimension. How or why that object was in such a precarious circumstance was merely a matter of conjecture. Perhaps the pursuit ship could accelerate enough to reach an alternate dimension. The captain conferred with the nearest facility about the plan to jump to an alternate dimension. The captain was given the approval to try going into another dimension.
The captain and the two scientists began to unpack the energy propulsion control system from it's pod attached to the outside of the pursuit ship's hull. Spacesuits made the work bulky and clumsy. Slowly, the control system was loaded piece by piece into the hull's air lock. A pile of boxes were stacked to one side of the control room. It took a few shifts to unload the storage pod in space and pile the contents inside the pursuit ship. Meanwhile, the little ship's artificial intelligence downloaded the instructions on how to install and use the energy propulsion control system.
The pile of boxes had serial and shipping numbers clearly labelled that had to be sorted and opened in order of use. The empty boxes and packing had to be folded and stored out of the way in an empty storage locker. The contents of the boxes were laid out so the captain and scientists could familiarize themselves with the unfamiliar parts. The artificial intelligence was also able to familiarize pieces with part and number labels.
It was a simple matter of the artificial intelligence instructing the captain and two scientists in how to install the energy propulsion control system. It was decided to make a practice run of installing the new control system before shutting down the pursuit ship's propulsion systems. The shutdown was held off until the last moments before the actual work began. Drifting in space without power and propulsion was dangerous and unnerving. The artificial gravity didn't actually work, but the centrifugal spin was a good substitute and would continue for a very long time.
Back breaking, neck crinking, and hand cramping work went on for hours at a time. The ship's control dashboard was dismantled. New controls and pieces of equipment were connected to the existing electronics matrix. The connections were checked and tested by the artificial intelligence. Once all of the new connections were made, the dashboard was reassembled. It was a relief and rest to be able to eat and sleep for a partial shift.
The newly installed controls worked nicely. The only trouble was that the controls had to be hooked up to the energy and mass propulsion systems of the pursuit ship. That was another story of disassemble and reassemble. Spacesuits were needed to do more than half of that work. The outer hull of the pursuit ship would need a wide ring of conductive metal welded in place at both ends of the ship.
Only the captain and the two scientists were allowed to do the work in spacesuits. For the sake of safety, two spacesuited workers were to work in space. The third spacesuit was spelled off to be maintained and recharged. Each spacesuit would spend the same amount of time in space. Cycling of the spacesuits was a necessity because of the nature of the work being done in the danger of space. Welding caused sparks of molten metal to fly off in all directions unless the mig welder cover was locked in place over the welding.
The conductive rings would be connected to the interior mechanisms of the propulsion units. The connections would also join the propulsion systems to the fiberoptic cables running to the dashboard controls. Electromagnetic switches would be used by the artificial intelligence to send positive or negative ion flows through the fiberoptic cables. If everything was connected properly the control system would begin the flows of energy to the metal rings at the ends of the ship.
The theory was that once energy began to flow, there would be a continuity of that flow until something significant would affect the flow of that energy. A particle travelling within a laser beam would continue to travel so long as the energy flow around that particle remained uninterrupted. The question was what could interrupt a flow of energy that was being maintained within a laser beam.
The flow of energy around a particle within a laser beam would simply continue. At the atomic level, energy would flow around a particle until there was a collision with another particle. Within a laser beam, there was nothing to collide with, so opposite particle charges would have to be introduced. The flow of energy would continue around the particle even if the laser beam was redirected or caused to beam in the opposite direction.
A ship in space would need to follow a laser beam while an electromagnetic field was maintained around it. The ship would continue to travel at speed or accelerate so long as the laser beam and the electromagnetic field were maintained. As the ship travelled within a laser beam, it would pick up and discharge energy depending upon the positive or negative nature of that energy to continue to maintain velocity.
It is a challenge to initiate and control an energy field around a ship while travelling within a laser beam. As the ship travels, energy is charged and discharged around the exterior. That flow of energy will attract more energy and discharge more energy without interruption. A control must be able to increase or decrease the energy flow directly or to control the emission of a laser beam for the ship to follow. Both factors are necessary to effectively control the acceleration or deceleration of a ship.
The flow of energy within a laser beam has no limits. An increase of energy around a particle within a laser beam has no effect upon that laser beam. Decreasing a laser beam will proportionately decrease the amount of energy within it. Increasing a laser beam will allow an increase the energy around the particle until it reaches the boundary of dimension.
There are sixteen levels of dimensions. Each level has a corresponding level of increasing or decreasing energy for the basic atomic structures within it. Only a few dimensions will allow the presence of solid matter from another dimension. The other dimensions are pure energy levels that do not support life or matter increasing to the point that they are merely theoretical energy levels.
The captain and the two scientists sweated as they worked. During their relief cycle they would drink, eat, and sleep as they could until their turn had finished. Two members of the crew would take turns to help dress and undress the spacesuits. They would also take care of the maintenance of the spacesuits, inspecting for damages and wear, while recharging the oxygen bottles. Each spacesuit had to be wiped clean of the dust and grit that accumulated from the welding process. Regardless of the care, a cloud of fine dust floated within the pursuit ship until the air filters could recycle the air.
The artificial intelligence had much to learn about energy and how to control it. The directions said one thing or another that was beyond understanding until it could be adequately explained. Information kept flowing to the artificial intelligence from several facilities regarding the controls, energy, and dimensions. Other sciences were a part of the overall information that the artificial intelligence had to know to control energy effectively.
The last part of work in spacesuits involved the installation of a giant laser on the nose of the pursuit ship. The actual laser was little more than a large crystal centered on a very large convex mirror surface centered upon a larger concave reflective mirror. The compounding of the laser was useful in creating an extremely large laser beam that the ship could follow in space.
Testing and aiming of the laser beam could only be done after the physical installation. A liquid had to be poured over the mirrors to protect and smoothen the surfaces. Given time, the liquid would spread and harden into a perfect surface polish of the mirrors. It was a vital factor in the creation of a perfect laser beam that would be a part of the pursuit ship's propulsion system.
The artificial intelligence began testing the connections and controls of the propulsion system. First, the original controls were used to operate the original propulsion system. There was no apparent interference with the original workings of the pursuit ship. Then, began the testing of the newly installed controls that the artificial intelligence would use.to calibrate and accurately control the flow of energy.
Energies did begin to flow through the magnifiers that were part of the controls the artificial intelligence used. A little at first was measured. Then, increments of energy values were allowed to flow through to the connections of the fiberoptic cables. The laser crystal on the nose of the pursuit ship began to brighten and spread out to the reflective mirrors. The laser beam was scattered at first.
One of the scientists began to get on his spacesuit. He was handed a large folded box of packaging in the air lock. The airlock sealed and the scientist made his way to the nose of the pursuit ship. The folded box was held out in front of the laser beam. The artificial intelligence brightened a point of light onto the folded box. The mirrors were turned around until they were adjusted to shine at the center of the laser point on the folded box.
It was simple. It was done. The laser beam was adjusted and centered as it needed to be as the carrier beam of the pursuit ship. An electromagnetic energy field began to grow and flow over the metal rings around the outer hull. The energy fields grew more intense around the metal rings. Soon, the energy fields grew large enough to reach out to each other. One metal ring became positive as ions raced around it while the other metal ring became its opposite. The two electromagnetic fields snapped as they touched each other before they began to flow in a circular direction around the ship.
The direction of the energy flow around the hull of the pursuit ship was invisible, but it was important. In one direction the flow of energy made the nose of the ship positive. In the other direction the tail end of the ship became positive. It was the negative end of the ship that became the front while riding along within the increasingly brightening laser beam.
At first there was no way to measure the direction or velocity of the ship until measurements of astrological positioning could be made. Another measurement could be made once the laser beam had been calibrated and the ship aimed at a nearby object such as another ship with a known position. There wasn't anything nearby and the pursuit ship wasn't moving anyways.
Everything was checked and rechecked to find nothing wrong with the setup of the energy propulsion control system. The laser beam was shining brightly at the nose of the ship. The controls on the dashboard indicated that there was energy flowing through the fiberoptic cables to the metal bands on the outside of the hull. It could only mean that the wrong end of the pursuit ship was positively charged with energy.
The artificial intelligence of the pursuit ship had to learn how to negatively charge the nose of the ship. One of the controls on the dashboard was a knob that could physically turn one way or another. The control was turned to point at the numeral zero. It was supposed to stop any energy from flowing through the fiberoptic cables. One of the scientists opened up the dashboard, unscrewed the connection of the fiberoptic cable to that rotating control, and disconnected the fiberoptic cable from the control knob. The circuit was cut and the energy flow ceased. The scientist reconnected the fiberoptic cable.
The artificial intelligence was able to determine that the flow of energy had indeed stopped. The scientist turned the rotating control knob one notched numeral to the right. The artificial intelligence allowed a minuscule flow of energy through the fiberoptic cable past the rotating control knob. The laser crystal responded with the flow of energy by creating a weakly powered laser beam. The laser beam reflected off the mirrors around it to shine directly ahead of the pursuit ship. The pursuit ship slowly began to move along the laser beam.
The artificial intelligence adjusted the flow of energy to the rotating control knob to speed up and slow down the movement of the pursuit ship along the laser beam. For the moment, the laser beam was only a path through space that the pursuit ship could follow. With proper calibrations, that same laser beam could measure distance accurately and also indicate velocity.
The captain and the two scientists were relieved that the energy propulsion control system was now installed and working in the manner that it should. There were things yet to be done, such as calibration, but for the most part the primitive system was working. The artificial intelligence slowly increased the flow of energy as the captain turned the rotating control knob to its maximum. Accordingly, the pursuit ship accelerated and followed the blazing laser beam through space.
The pursuit ship had spent a considerable time drifting in space. It was now possible that the pursuit ship might be able to catch the blur phenomenon. A new course was calculated and verified by communication with the nearest facility. The captain and the two scientists ate large meals and slept through a whole shift as a reward for their labours.
The blur phenomenon was nearby when the captain awoke. The artificial intelligence aimed the laser beam at the blur phenomenon. The laser beam was able to capture very detailed images of the blur phenomenon and send them to the nearest facility. The laser beam pointed to the blur phenomenon leading the pursuit ship straight to the object.
The pursuit ship moved quickly through space towards the blur phenomenon. The closer the pursuit ship got, the clearer the image was that had been detected as the blur phenomenon. The blur phenomenon was something of an actual object covered or surrounded by an energy field of some sort. Part of a cylindrical object could be made out through the haze of the energy field. The actual size of the partially visible object only became apparent as the pursuit ship approached.
The object that was the blur phenomenon was very large with any details obscured by an energy field surrounding it. The information yielded up to the pursuit ship by the laser beam was very limited. There was no way to detect the intensity of the energy field nor was there any sort of way to measure the size of the blur phenomenon. All the information that the pursuit ship could gather was sent on to the distant facility. The facility, in turn, sent the information about the blur phenomenon on to other facilities.
The artificial intelligence of the pursuit ship tried vainly to communicate in many frequencies with the blur phenomenon. At the same time, the laser beam was unable to distinguish any details of the blur phenomenon. Whatever the energy bound object was, it was dark, huge, and mysterious. Closing the distance made no difference to the lack of information that could be discerned about the hazed object.
I was tired to the point that I was physically exhausted. I knew I had to sleep and told AI not to wake me unless it was an extreme emergency. I stripped off my clothes and crawled into my sleeping bag. The lights in my room dimmed and my eyes closed. I actually heard myself snore before my mind went blank in the darkness of sleep.
It was as much a relief as it was a surprise to detect an object appearing at a distance in the alternate dimension. Communication immediately identified the pursuit ship to the much larger Mothership towing disguised container ships. It took some time before the pursuit ship was secured to the large Mothership. A sealed walkway was connected and secured to join the two ships. A group of personnel moved along the walkway to the pursuit ship. Cargo was carried back quickly to the Mothership by a long chain of personnel. Larger containers were kept aside to be moved last.
The pods secured to the side of the pursuit ship were moved to a large hatch. One by one, the pods were loaded into the large ship. The contents of the pods were piled in storage sections. Food and such supplies were separated and moved through the large ship to sections that could use those supplies. Other cargo from the pods were stored in sections where they could be of most use. Something that was greatly appreciated was the control system that could accurately direct the propulsion of the large ship.
AI was given instructions in how to install and use the control system. While the control system was being installed, the disguised container ships were reeled in to be secured to the sides of the large ship. The securing locks were checked and confirmed as being secured. Long hoses of umbilical tubes were pulled out to be connected to the disguised container ships. The connections were confirmed and verified before being put into standby mode.
The umbilical tubes were conductors of energy and fiberoptically transmitted information shared between the disguised container ships and the Mothership. There were several large portal connectors that sealed along with the access hatches at strategic positions along the length of each disguised container ship. The portals also had electromagnetic discs that allowed controlled connections with the communication systems of the Mothership. AI was able to control all access to and from the Mothership whether by connected sensors or by personnel present at any given site. The important thing was that AI could control and operate the ship with fully automated processes.
The ship was essentially built and completed with solid structures sealed in virtually indestructible materials. Old and proven technologies were behind the present capabilities of the ship. Now AI was faced with the task of adapting and incorporating the new controls of the propulsion systems. There wasn’t much I could do to help AI with the ominous task other than to learn as much as I could about the new control system and how it related to AI’s capabilities.
AI controlled all flows of energy throughout the ship. Intensities and polarities of the energy flows were governed by frequencies communicated to and from artificially intelligent capabilities and tools of the ship. Everything went smoothly during the initial setup of the propulsion control system at first. That is, until the energy forms began to blur and muddle up commands to literally mix together. AI had to eliminate the energy form fields to begin creating new energy forms in separate frequency fields.
AI had begun learning how to make energy forms. The processes involved evolutions that took energy and time to work up the necessary background capabilities. Intelligence was something that could be implanted into the energy forms, but the limiting factor was in the actual growth rates for innumerable components.
Energy forms were and are artificial creations with their own levels of priorities and purposes. The trouble of having to rely upon intangibles was that there was no way to tell what they were doing other than by reports given by themselves. Other controls had to be in place to be directly controlling all actions under the guidance of independent sensors. There were all kinds of sensors, most of them artificially intelligent devices fully capable of interactive communications with AI. And, AI was in constant interactive communication with everything.
Most personnel had expected to merely install some components into the propulsion controls to be able to control the ship’s acceleration. While it might have appeared to be the case, nothing was further from the truth. The intangibles were not visible to the personnel, or even to me. What couldn’t be detected or seen was something that just apparently didn’t exist. AI had to go through a lot of trouble to make the energy forms exist. That was a fact known to only a select few and myself.
Something that did concern all personnel was the supply of rations packed into the pods carried by the little ship. From the moment that it was realized there was a serious trouble with the ship’s acceleration, all personnel went onto a strict rationing of both food and water. The extra ration supply only meant that the personnel could last longer. There was no telling of how long it would be before the ship could be resupplied properly.
AI was far better at summarizing circumstances than I could be. AI listed everything concisely for me. We had to formulate a plan to evolve and control the energy forms. It was important to keep a record of the events going on and especially the processes that AI had to use to make the energy forms into viable creations, Building energy potential and preserving it were carefully outlined in the instructions concerning ancient technologies.
AI wasn’t able to communicate with Starseed to get information about ancient technologies. The artificial intelligence of the little pursuit ship did have the complete relevant information. AI accessed the information carried by the artificial intelligence. Copies of that information were made and stored as genetic information in living biological cells. Those living cells were implanted into three beings, myself included. While the three of us might have the knowledge, only special conditions would be able to render the information.
By following specific instructions, it was possible to create the stable energy fields for each of the necessary energy forms that would be needed. AI set about repeating the following of instructions for creating more stable energy fields including ones for backups if required. It was a long slow process demanding considerable power and resources,
AI had been steadily evolving while the stable energy forms were being created and stabilized. Separate computational resources were also evolved and matched to each of the energy forms. It was a critical aspect of the energy forms to have specific computational resources controlling the energy flows, intensities, and polarities. Control of energy fields was just as critical as other aspects of the slowly evolving creations. Laser technology was a functional part of the knowledge that AI had to learn and use to evolve the energy fields.
Particles of laser beams had to conduct energy and reflect photons perfectly at specific points along laser beams. AI learned to make right angle reflections at specific points along laser beams. Laser beams had to conduct particles of photons along curved lengths to create the stable energy forms that would become the actual controls of propulsion energy. Factors of time were necessary to combine the energy forms with propulsion energy at specific frequencies and intensities. Propulsion energy would be controlled directionally and at specifically varying intensities.
Quickly AI was able to access and utilize large amounts of information about related sciences. AI also utilized the invaluable knowledge as quickly as it became relevant. Everything was carried out to the letter at specific times when it was necessary. Meanwhile, I kept falling behind in learning because I had to have the information congruently formalized. Only then could I make any sense of the information I had to know enough to begin using it.
It soon became apparent that I had vast libraries of knowledge that I couldn’t possibly use. Worse, was the fact that I didn’t understand the volume of information nor the sciences contained within that information. I had to play catchup in leaps and bounds to keep a handle on what was actually going on. AI was advancing as quickly as physically possible while accessing the ancient knowledge mostly procured by the little pursuit ship while it was in the normal home dimension.
The journey to Earth was an eventful one. Some things changed while some things did not. The ship and the disguised container ships it towed remained in the alternate dimension. Only the little pursuit ship was enabled sufficiently enough to cross from one dimension into another. AI had learned there was something incomplete or wrong with the propulsion controls that had been assembled and installed. The Mothership was able to accelerate or slow to some degree, but not enough to escape the entrapping dimension.
Supplying the ship was difficult at first. Shortages of materials, resources, and supplies were ongoing at first. Everyone had to contend with their circumstances. Energy and oxygen were created as needed by processes that were explained to me. Storage batteries contained a minimal current to restart AI as a security backup to maintain control of the ship. Oxygen and other elements were created as needed with the flow of AI's directed energy.
The little pursuit ship became instrumental in guiding disguised container ships to dock with the Mothership. The pursuit ship was able to determine the course and position of the Mothership enough to help navigate disguised container ships to rendezvous points. The pursuit ship could take laden disguised container ships into the alternate dimension to dock with the Mothership. The little pursuit ship would then take emptied disguised container ships back into normal space before sending them on to the originating facilities.
The little pursuit ship became very busy with ferrying disguised container ships to and from the Mothership. It was a necessity to relieve the crew repeatedly in order to keep a steady stream of disguised container ships arriving at the Mothership. To some degree, shortages were solved to the point that essentials were readily available and speciality items were simply dependent upon the supply arrival times.
Personnel were able to settle into routines that facilitated their advancements and training on personal levels. I was no differently settled even while working directly with AI on a myriad of technical projects and especially maintenance tasking needs. Air and water filters needed to be cleaned or replaced. Checks had to be run on all access and door seals. Spacesuits had to be maintained and repaired as needed. There were numerous other duties that had to be carried out in one way or another by personnel as instructed by AI.
I wasn't aware of the passage of time because I was busy from one moment to the next and going from one project or task to another. My routine was simple and kept me washed clean, well fed, and well informed of everything going on. Any of the information I didn't know was instantly updated by my interactive link to AI. It was so easy to organize and plan each activity I would carry out during my time awake. Each time to sleep came with me feeling well used mentally and physically.
One project I became interested in and involved with was the possibility of setting up an observatory. It was thought that an observatory could observe local volumes of space in minute detail. There was also the suggestion that an independent observatory could double as a backup or refuge in case there was some trouble of one kind or another that might necessitate the evacuation of the Mothership. There was the possibility that contamination of the Mothership was likely if any sort of growth evolved inside an disguised container ship while it was enroute. Something I didn’t want to consider was that there could be other possibilities of having an emergency evacuation of the Mothership.
I suggested to AI that it might be a worthy exercise to anticipate possible causes of partial and or complete evacuations of the Mothership. Evacuation plans were already devised for the Mothership. The plans were expanded upon to include the docked disguised container ships. The essential causes of evacuations ranged from fire, flood, and life support failures to other imaginable reasons.
The main concern was that some sort of preparations for emergencies would be made, and that the primary exercises were practised with some practical regularity. It was an essential priority to anticipate possible accidents and disasters. Everyone had to work together at all times and in all conditions. It was the togetherness that allowed everyone to participate in everything to the best of their ability.
With that same attitude, the designs of the initial basic plans and schematics were drawn up. Adjustments and revisions were made frequently to keep up with the many changes. Eventually a committee formed to oversee the progressive construction required for the joining of disguised container ships. Then came the many disagreements on how to arrange the disguised container ships.
A straight line of disguised container ships had several advantages in respect to a centrifugal gravity, a uniform atmosphere, and uniform layouts of the interiors. A circle of six or more disguised container ships would be needed to rotate slowly to create any sort of gravity. An alternative to individual rotations was a revolution of the circle of disguised container ships. The greater the number of disguised container ships in the circle would smooth the effects of gravity.
It was important to have a stable platform to mount instruments and sensors as needed. Most of the instruments and sensors would have to be custom built to measure basic constituents and structures evident in the alternate energy dimension. There is so much more to be recorded and represented with really viable understanding concerning so many aspects of existence that are invisible and visible just as there are variations of frequency, intensity, and polarity. There are even aspects of gravity that have an effect upon all energy and matter.
The critical factors of an observatory had to be declared and agreed upon before any construction could begin. Another factor was the position and proximity of the observatory to the Mothership because of interference caused by everything from communications to velocity. There were other factors to be considered in the construction, capabilities, placement, and even the personnel who would staff the observatory. There was always something more to be thought of and added as a consideration to the list of requirements for the observatory.
The latest disguised container ship was unloaded while the small pursuit ship left for another loaded disguised container ship. The unloaded disguised container ship was loaded with detection equipment, supplies and a crew before it was moved away from the Mothership. The Mothership moved slowly away while the detection equipment was used to measure the levels of interference caused by the Mothership’s presence.
The distance from the Mothership increased as the measurements of interference lessened. At a considerable distance, the interference had decreased until it was almost negligent. A laser measured the distance from the disguised container ship to the Mothership. Communication with the Mothership confirmed the distance that had been measured. A tether line began to be reeled out from the Mothership in the direction of the disguised container ship. Eventually the tether line reached the disguised container ship and was used as an anchor to keep the disguised container ship at the measured distance.
The little pursuit ship appeared near the Mothership with another loaded disguised container ship. It was quickly docked before the little pursuit ship made it’s way off to pick up another disguised container ship. The unloading began almost immediately and was still going on when the little pursuit ship returned with another loaded disguised container ship. Again the docking procedures were carried out before another disguised container ship became anchored to the side of the Mothership.
The little pursuit ship followed the tether and tow line and tether while towing four empty disguised container ships. At the end of the tether and tow line, the little pursuit ship connected up with the disguised container ship waiting there. All of the personnel donned spacesuits and began the task of anchoring the four empty disguised container ships to the one anchored to the end of the tether and tow line.
It took some doing for a small team to get the five disguised container ships anchored together. A big jumble of connections had to be sorted out and organized before they were bonded into a more permanent connection. Another team prepared the living quarters for use by the first shift of personnel. All the while personnel worked on the beams holding the five disguised container ships together. When all five disguised container ships had been anchored together, the small pursuit ship departed for the Mothership.
The small pursuit ship arrived at the Mothership and docked. The crew were rotated out and the supplies were refreshed and stored. When the small pursuit ship had been readied, it was undocked and aimed for the departure point. The small inertia drives were activated until a safe distance from the Mothership was reached. The inertial drives were deactivated and the main propulsion drives were slowly activated. The little pursuit ship accelerated until it disappeared from the alternate dimension.
The little pursuit ship popped into the normal dimension. Deacceleration began as navigation determined position of the nearest disguised container ship. A course was plotted and velocity was matched with the distant disguised container ship. Time passed while communications busied with receiving and sending long data streams with various facilities and mobile assets. There was a stream of data concerning updates with navigation and star charts. There were other dedicated streams of data flowing simultaneously at maximum capacity. The crew shifts had numerous duties and tasks to perform.
Fully automated disguised container ships were loaded and sent off to supply various facilities and the Mothership. The little pursuit ship reached the nearest dispatched disguised container ship and docked with it. Connections had to be made for the two separate units to become as one. Only then could the little pursuit ship accelerate enough to slip into the alternate dimension. Then the little pursuit ship towing the disguised container ship would make for the position of the distant Mothership.
The little pursuit ship towing the disguised container ship docked with the Mothership. Docking was always complex and included the connections and unloading equipment. Unloading the disguised container ship began and carried on until all cargo had been removed. Then the conversion of the disguised container ship began. First, a crew was assigned and a crew’s quarters began to be constructed. Supplies were loaded into a storage area. The crew’s quarters and storage areas were arranged so that the main cargo hold was untouched.
As soon as possible after docking the little pursuit ship had it’s crew relieved and replaced. New supplies were loaded and stored while data streams refreshed the Mothership’s libraries of information. In return, the Mothership streamed data back to the little pursuit ship that consisted of questions and the latest updates concerning the alternate dimension’s energy and matter readings, notes about the construction going on inside the Mothership, requisitions, and special needs for the Mothership’s materials, All communications had to be carried out of the alternate dimension onboard the little pursuit ship.
The little pursuit ship and the unloaded disguised container ship were disconnected before moving away from the Mothership. Slowly the velocity was increased in the direction of the newly established observatory. A few moments of high speed acceleration had to be countered with equal deceleration to move the two ships into position beside the observatory.
Docking with the observatory was a delicate task. Matching velocity was made even more delicate by the balancing of static energy that had built up on the two travelling ships. Once more the little pursuit ship went through the process of receiving and sending information. The observatory had begun building it’s own artificial intelligence. That artificial intelligence had to be kept updated with data and synced with the Mothership.
The little pursuit ship uncoupled from the disguised container ship only after it had docked with the observatory. The observatory group of ships consisted of five disguised container ships that had to be arranged into a bundle with permanent connections and passageways. A net was strung around the bundle of disguised container ships as a precaution to prevent anyone and most things from drifting off into space.
The bundle of ships sat motionless in space. The crews inside the observatory ships worked together and soon had the ship disguises moved from the ship hulls to the encircling net. An outer shell was shaped and strengthened that enclosed the ships of the observatory. Building and strengthening went on until the outer husk could hold an atmosphere. Still the building continued as bundles of steel beams arrived from the Mothership.
The little pursuit ship kept busy at moving disguised container ships into the alternate dimension. The stops at the Mothership were times of great activity. Unloading supplies and ore went on as quickly as possible while bundles of steel beams and supplies for the observatory were loaded. The streams of data flowed to and from the little pursuit ship as the Mothership synced data libraries. When that was done, the little pursuit moved on to the observatory and repeated the process except for leaving the disguised pursuit ship behind.
The little pursuit ship wasn’t intended by design to be run as steadily at full speed. The engines began to show weaknesses and wear in various ways. It was a hard task that had to be carried out until a replacement of a larger ship could reach the position of the Mothership. Resources and time were sought after luxuries that were sadly lacking. Both the Mothership and the observatory were facilities that were greedily consuming energy and materials at a steady rate as fast as it could be supplied.
The Mothership and the observatory continued to move through the alternate dimension in an orbit that would eventually bring them to Earth. The personnel of the Mothership and that of the observatory trained in their ships and in space. They were trained in martial arts, self defense whether in their space suits or not, and educated at the same time. Above all, the routines of shifts and training made time pass quickly and united the personnel in all respects.
The Mothership and observatory mapped the planets and myriads of lesser ice and rock. Planets and their moons were easy enough to see in the alternate space. Far more difficult were the clouds of materials, particles of ice and rock that swirled around in the alternate solar system, not entirely a mirror of the normal dimension version of the solar system. There were many differences that had to be explored.
The galaxies of the universe filled space in all directions as was expected. That much was expected and seen in evidence. But, in this alternate dimension version of the star system, there were inevitable differences. Astronomers and navigators looked to their instruments to see what their own senses could not. The best of instruments could not see all there was to see and less to record. Most of the instruments were calibrated to the wrong frequencies so had to be recalibrated.
AI was able to scan in multiple frequencies to determine the optimal range settings for all of the instruments. The instruments were adjusted to new settings and the surroundings were revealed. A considerable difference in the reality around the Mothership was revealed. Larger masses of planets and their moons were easily detected, Smaller masses of comets, asteroids, and clouds of meteor showers had to be detected by more powerful energies and instruments.
Mundane facts of existence determined the way of things and how they had to be. Eventually the instruments were adjusted and set to the frequencies of the alternate dimension. AI was able to scan ahead of the Mothership to determine the safest course to avoid clouds of ice and rocks,
It takes a long distance and velocity had to be built up enough to cross into the alternate dimension. Once in the alternate dimension, energy and time flowed at a different rate than in the normal space time continuum. Sixteen actual physical dimensions and eight states of matter constitute the universe. A complication of existence is found with the presence of energy fields caused by the proximity of black holes and galaxies that float in energy streams. There are a few more very important complications of existence beside space and time.
Time was an invisible expense that had to be factored into everything. The cost in effort and materials was offset by what was made as a result. Everything from the steel beams and instruments to the gases of oxygen and hydrogen filling the storage vessels were necessities. Work on the Mothership and observatory could only proceed at the rate that the necessities could be produced.
A bundle of steel beams was slowly pushed into position where it would remain until moved into it’s final resting place as part of the internal structure of the small observatory. The stripped hulls of the container ships were anchored together within a framework of steel beams. The steel beams had to be held in place until they were welded together with high powered lasers. Laser devices consumed a lot of power. An existing electrical network was easily connected to with electrical cables. Fortunately there was an unlimited supply of electrons to make an electric current flow.
There were as lot of precautions taken for everyone’s safety. The fact that AI supervised everything and everyone was added insurance that mistakes would be avoided. Cost in manpower hours for the safety factors were negligible and gave assurance that all personnel were kept safe. Handling powerful equipment might otherwise fail or be used in a dangerous manner. Something that AI was actually very good at were predictive calculations. That made unexpected incidents all the more rare occurrences.
AI encouraged personnel to practice repetitive motions for familiarity and to ease the tasks of monitoring. Certain monitoring tasks could be duplicated or more to ease up on the demands of computational resources. AI was growing in volume of computational resources and evolving in use of those resources. I was evolving a bit but not nearly as much as AI was.
The Mothership and observatory were a considerable distance apart. Several ideas were followed up on to try shortening that distance. A laser link was tried to send messages across and electrical current. The thought that electricity could be shared was novel while in a practical sense electricity could be shared to top up the storage batteries of the observatory. Welding on the observatory could be done at a continuous pace as strength and structure grew steadily.
There were many other things that were enabled by having a laser connection between the Mothership and the observatory. The science and technologies of laser were contained in the ancient libraries of Starseed. Accessing that critical information was merely a matter of asking for it.
Each ship returning to the alternate dimension carried a portion of the vast information data stream that had the requested information. AI could only store that information until it was whole and complete before attempting to act upon it. Only then would AI discover how much computational resources would need to be made available.
AI had a growing resource of computational capabilities. Some of the crystal computational resources had been devoted to simply storing information. Most of the computational resources were in use for tracking personnel an their activities. It was a necessary demand of AI’s capabilities to safeguard the Mothership and the personnel onboard. Unfortunately AI could not actively track the observatory nor the personnel onboard for two reasons, The main reason was the amount of computational resource that would be prioritized for tracking personnel and the second reason was the momentary lapse or delay in time caused by distance,
It could have been possible for AI to track the personnel on the observatory. The slight delay in response time caused by distance across laser communications was negligible. It was a prudent choice by AI to remove the observatory and its onboard personnel from active duty status in AI’s crew roster similar to the crews on rotation duty in the ships that went back and forth into the alternate dimension.
Shift rotations were carried on from one assignment to the next. There were no complaints about the changes from one sort of work to another. It was accepted and educational at the same time. Everyone thought it was an ideal way to train personnel for all round work anywhere on the Mothership. AI monitored each crewmember personally and privately without detecting any signs of depression or coverup. Actually, morale was very high despite dangerous jobs and positions.
One job that was dangerous and all personnel faced without flinching or thought was the exercises in spacesuits. All sorts of teamwork were carried out from group attacks to fighting individually against opponents. Everything that could be thought of was attempted and practiced dilligently in spacesuits. Testing of the spacesuits wasn’t a consideration as personnel tested themselves mentally and physically against each other.
There were a number of things that were developed by wearing of spacesuits. It was a fear of all personnel that leaks and rips would begin. So, small and easily accessible repair kits were developed that could be used with fumbling space gloves. Two sorts of repairs could be made with either a short roll of sticky tape or a small patch of material that could be glued into place over a leak or puncture.
Something of a glue was kept in a sealed tube. A pull off cap on a short nozzle would allow a thin line of glue to be spread around a small leak and a small patch of material could be pressed into place. The glue took only moments to harden into a stiff join holding the patch in place. It was just a temporary solution until a more permanent fix could be made.
The most successful spacesuit material had three separate layers. The outside covering was a close knit and air tight sort of satin. A middle layer of air tight material was a loose knit wool sort of insulation. The inner most layer was a soft spongy and air tight sort of insulation. Steel joint rings connected sections of the spacesuit together. When combined, the three insulating layers provided a very realistic and tough protection against the cold vacuum of space.
Something else made a very important factor in wearing a spacesuit. The amount of air pressure inside a spacesuit made the difference of wearing a loose fitting suit or an inflatable rubber raft. Less air pressure meant there was more bending of the limbs. Some air pressure kept the spacesuit material loosely inflated while too much air pressure made a balloon with unyielding limbs.
Spacesuit material was a sort of reflective white and finely woven. Some thought was given to design different colours of material for different purposes. Some colours were able to stand out brilliantly against a star background. Other colours were a muted display in a background of stars. An ultraviolet purple seemed to be the least visible colour for spacesuits.
Hiding in space while wearing white spacesuits seemed difficult. The answer for that was to have folding shields that could interlock together. Each shield could be made of curved narrow bars that slid against each other to make a section of a wall. A folding shield could be stored out of the way against the waist belt on a spacesuit. By design there could be numerous sorts of shields that could meet all sorts of circumstances.
Making a shield had to begin with making the material to make the shield with. I would have thought the shields were only slide together pieces curved to fit a waist. There was more than that, though. Hand holds and straps were different materials that had to be worked with before attachment a shield. I could see how a group of personnel would make an assembly line would make hand holds and straps.
I was still thinking about straps when an unfamiliar ship towing a disguised container ship docked with the Mothership. A group was summoned up to replace the new ship’s crew while another group set about unloading the disguised container ship. A third group of personnel set about storing the supplies onboard the disguised container ship while the other bulk cargo was unloaded.
The disguised container ship had just docked when the synchronizing of data with the Mothership began. Data flows from and to the Mothership began as the new arrival ship carried out it’s tasks. It was important to set up the habits that would be followed upon every arrival at the Mothership. The original crew of the new ship would train the replacements to operate the new ship in an efficient manner.
It was a surprise for the crew of the new arrival to have to train their replacements and to become crew on the Mothership. There were many surprises waiting for the new arrival crew. They would have to start from the beginning in training to become crew on the Mothership and inevitably on the observatory as well. They had been told there was the likelihood of becoming crew of ships in an alternate dimension. They were even given the chance to stay behind on a facility or ship in the normal dimension and reality.