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 Outside - A Glass of Wine

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PostSubject: Outside - A Glass of Wine   April 20th 2010, 8:08 am

Outside - Story Nine
A Glass of Wine

Part 1

Okay, this is Castle. More my story than anyone else’s, so I am telling it. Let me see… I am having a little trouble where to start. I guess that I can start with Sandra. Yeah, let me start with Sandra.

Truthfully, we were in Felix’s apartment. He has a lot of metalworking devices in his bedroom. He sleeps on his couch, so I am told. I know that he sleeps with Indigo and Sandra as well, but I also know that the three of them will spend time together in his apartment. I am not certain where they sleep, but they cannot sleep in the bedroom, as you have to put things you are not using away properly in order to use what you want. Sandra and I had come into Felix’s room in order to use one of his machines, and as we looked over the results did this conversation occur.

“Well, that is what I need,” I said while looking at a very small circular diamond. “Why is it that Felix has this tool?”

“Have you been in Felix’s boat?”

“I believe that I have looked at everyone’s boat. I pretty much know this ship as well.”

I like working on spacecraft. I will tear apart mine and rebuild it simply because I have spare time. There are a lot of things that have to work together to get a craft to move safely at tachy speeds while making life livable. The methods of layering and interacting those processes I find fascinating. My interest thus did have me inspect the ways others had solved certain problems. Sandra’s response however told me that what I found important was not what others considered important.

“So, you have seen all the lovely detail work?”

“I remember seeing a lot of lightning bolts and shields with what he said were his unit’s insignia when in the military.”

“There is more than that.” Sandra could tell that I really was not interested, so went ahead to make her point. “Felix does all that design work himself. This machine was not bought because Felix wanted to work on diamonds, but because it has the power to make some really fine marks on some rather dense substances. This diamond grinding ability was just something advertised to get people like Felix interested in purchasing it.”

I again looked to the diamond sphere as I said, “And it worked.”

“Yep.”

Sandra was a rather attractive lady. She was one of the shortest members of our crew, but with a very strong lean body. If her boobs were not as big, I believe that they would also feel firm. Sandra did not only work out, but as the mechanic she had a rather physically demanding job. If she had short hair, I would probably not even consider her a lady. She was, though, and one that I actually enjoyed spending time with. If I had some military in my background, she might have given me more of her time. As it was, she only treated me as an equal because she knew that I was probably as good as her in being able to keep the Menlo Park running smoothly.

After seeing me continue to stare at the diamond, she asked, “Exactly what are you going to do with that thing?”

I looked at the ceiling, then remembered that we had locked out the communication network before answering. “Work on my engine. I plan on earning my fortune by figuring out how to activate a Kert Field without a gravity well.”

“How does that diamond help?”

“It should allow me to avoid resonance. I agree with the theory that what we are doing with our engines is good, but not good enough. What happens is that our attempts to distort reality within the Kert Field demands the resonance with something that actually fits the requirements of what we hope to achieve. This diamond is however more compact than a terrestrial diamond, even more compact that what we can produce. It thus might give me the edge to push beyond present limits and allow me to achieve a result without resonance.”

Sandra proved that she knew the theories by not attempting to discuss the topic with me. “Okay, but if you succeed, don’t think that I won’t show up looking for a little good will.”

“You will have to sleep with me, but I will make it worth your while.”

Talk like that did not bother the lady. She was ex-military, so was used to worse. I have heard her speak such fowl language that I almost logged a complaint against her. I only didn’t because I knew that if I did she would not speak to me again. Sandra displayed no annoyance of my words in her return comment.

“I have slept with you before, Castle.”

“I know, but I figure after I gave you what I felt you were worth, that you would move on and I would never get the chance again.”

She patted a cheek of mine as she replied, “You’re right, but I would have fond memories of you. I promise.”

I left wondering exactly what type of lady I would end up with. I was scared that I would end up alone, like Diamond. I however kept looking at the ladies around me feeling that they were all wonderful choices for a mate. Sandra was a number of years older than me, but I would be glad to have her. She was one lady that I could talk to on subjects that I like to talk about. Clover got stuck with Naomi, but I really liked her. She could get angry at you, but she would also laugh very easily as well. She was someone that I fully believed would stay with Clover moving through the highs and lows of his life as an active companion. Indigo was quiet, but I liked her. Darlene was not quiet, although she was also not interested in things that I liked. Rachel was all authoritative, but she was pretty and I knew that Thor loved her. I thus believed that behind closed doors Rachel was a different type of person. Harley – well, Harley was one that I probably didn’t like, but whoever got her would probably be glad to have her. I spent a lot of time wondering what type of lady would eventually get me, and I wondered if she would actually like me. I kept thinking about getting rich and settling with a woman, although I also constantly worried that the only reason a lady would come to live with me was because of the money.

I tried to lose myself in building a small Kert Field engine. It really did not work, as thinking about high energy mechanics and females operated in entirely different parts of my brain. I would come out of a long session of putting certain parts together only to suddenly have my mind pick right back up on thoughts of women. I would then start back into work with my thoughts returning to where I had stopped.

“You are going to have to somehow meet one, Castle.”

That voice belonged to Naomi. I was in the kitchen eating some steak and potatoes. She normally cooks more involved dishes, but I came into the kitchen to find her and Clover discussing their desire for a more basic cuisine. Grilling was something that almost could not be done in an artificial atmosphere. It was not that the modern air systems could not handle it, but the process of grilling was actually a number of complex interactions that almost required a planetary atmosphere to enable it to play out properly. Clover’s sister attended college on Earth, and he spoke of actually having a grilled steak while there, so he had worked with his wife to try and recreate the taste. Naomi did work with her husband, but her comment had me realize that she was paying attention to others as well.

I did mumble. It was my method of staying sane. Working on spacecraft was not a group activity. Construction shops, like what Thor and Malcolm worked with before making their move into space, operated with each person doing their specific tasks. The only interaction with others was at lunch or as parts were moved between workers. Some worked with headphones listening to their preference of entertainment. I would probably do that if forced to work in some mindless repetitive job. I however set to work to learn how to do things properly in my own fashion, so needed to work out some problems on my own. I did this by talking to myself, and as I found myself achieving success I kept on talking. I tried to remember what I had been saying, but had to ask a question as what I often thought to be an important thought was usually not what others considered important.

“Meet one what?”

Naomi smiled as she answered, “Amish lady.”

Oh, yeah, I had been imagining gaining a lady like Naomi. I do consider Clover a friend. He and I are close to the same age, and we like to talk on the same topics. He is more into computers than mechanics, but the differing perspective to a common topic of spacecraft construction just adds flavor to our conversations. I have also enjoyed now having Naomi present when we spoke, so accepted that she had overheard something of me mentioning gaining a lady like her.

“Do you believe that I will have a chance?”

“You could. I doubt it, as they really do not get the chance to speak over any communication system. Becoming Amish is a choice however that really is not forced upon someone. The culture is there, and that does influence most children of the Amish, but I can say that I had a degree of freedom to determine my own future.”

I tried to reason out what she was saying as I returned, “They kicked you out.”

“Because of something I did. If my society was really as narrow-minded and constrained as some believe, I would not have had the ability to do what I did.”

“Well, I was just thinking.”

Like I said, Clover is a friend. I thus have spent time around Naomi. I thus felt she was trying to be a friend as she asked a question.

“Is there anyone that you speak to?”

“No. About the only girl that I speak to is Claire at a certain parts department. She is only the secretary, but I will sometimes speak to her while waiting for a certain mechanic to pick up their line.”

“Is she married?”

“I think she is, but she is also fat. I don’t want a fat girl.”

Naomi, Clover, and a number of others listening in laughed at my statement. They could laugh, as it did not bother me. I would not feel bad about stating my own opinion, and worked to reinforce that fact as I said more.

“I want somebody active, but I don’t know exactly who. I often wish that I lived further in the future.”

“In the future?”

“Yeah, where you could go cruising to some odd place at the edge of mapped space and find a bar where people and aliens would hang out. I always dream of going to such a place and finding a lady that was as lonely as I was, and we would find ourselves glad to have each other’s company.”

Clover said, “That is not going to happen in our lifetime, Castle. You have to go back Inside to find such a place.”

Darlene said from her place at the helm, “No aliens though. You think that you might want an alien chick, Castle?”

I felt that the lady might be trying to have some fun at my expense, but not scared of where she might take the conversation I responded. “As long as she is close enough to the human form to satisfy.”

Darlene was doing her usual activity of broadcasting to others in space, so I heard her say, “Attention cute little alien darlings, Castle is interested in making an acquaintance.”

I saw Malcolm enter the kitchen, so stood while saying, “Tell them that I will check my messages later. Right now I need to get ready for duty.”

Our helmsman looked at a clock then said, “Darlene, I see about a half hour more on your shift. Is Watson up?”

“I see a line active from his quarters, so I believe he is talking to one of his boyfriends.”

Malcolm looked to me as he said, “No rush, Castle. I go on duty in a half hour, but it is actually longer before you pilots switch. Even a small wait can sometimes feel like forever, and you have a good period of time.”

I replied, “Oh, I have something to do. I am going to be trying again to make my own fortune. I am going to see if one of those diamonds we found can give me a reaction.”

“Just stay alert. We put you on duty so as not to miss anything.”

“I know. I am here to make money as well, and you don’t make anything if nothing is found.”

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PostSubject: Part Two   April 25th 2010, 8:13 am

Outside - Story Nine
A Glass of Wine

Part 2

There was nothing new about one of us working on our own hobbies while flying point. I know that some captains preach to their point flyers about keeping their eyes on the monitors, but Thor did not hire inexperienced pilots. Thor, Rachel, and Clover had already been out on their own solo missions. Felix and Indigo had a number of years of experience flying for the military. Watson had been a tug pilot. Diamond had a long history of flight time. I actually am the most inexperienced pilot, but I presented Thor with an impressive resume that stood above all others seeking employment. We thus get to manage our own time even as we assure Thor that no money is left behind.

I set up my test Kert Field generator in my boat. I know that many people preach that you cannot activate a Kert Field within a Kert Field, but they don’t understand the theories or the reality. Since I have a good working knowledge of both, I eagerly brought my generator into my boat hoping to get some positive results.

It is true that I would have to wait for us to again shut down our Kert Field before I could actually fire up my generator. I could however make certain tests. What I sought to achieve would actually demand very little of my time. The big problem to my concentration on my job would not be the generator, but my absorption into the data should my experiment give me any positive results.

I spent the first hour or so of my time doing more than my job. Not only did I pay close attention to the sensors, but I did my best to assure that I would not miss anything by dividing my time between my real job and my hobby. Once I felt certain the space we were moving through did not have even the carbon clouds we left behind, I turned my attention to my generator.

I put on my spacesuit, then removed the atmosphere from within my boat. A Kert Field will work in an atmosphere, but it pulls a lot of power and maintaining it would create extra data that could confuse the reading of the results. I thus set things in motion to get solid facts of my ideas, even as I continued to keep a watch on the monitors that reported on things associated with my actual job.

The plasma field lit up without any problems. My experience with high energy mechanics showed itself in the even texture around my shell. I assured that everything was stable before setting things in motion to attempt to activate a Kert Field.

We fly by a complicated process of creating an alternate reality within a plasma field. That is the difference in an enveloping plasma and a Kert Field. Arnold Kert did not try to create an engine that would fly faster than the speed of light. The records say that he did consider it, but he wisely first simply tried to prove his technology. The first successful test of a Kert Field flew at point five three of tachy. That was still much faster than any other speed achieved by a motor, and with that success everyone pushed to achieve even faster speeds. Arnold Kert used evidence of a gravity field beyond our perceptions to achieve the first faster-than-light speed. At that time mankind, and not just a few pioneers, took off into space. It is not that many decades later, and we are still fixed to requiring a gravity well to get a Kert Field to activate. I tested my engine to see if I could get a transformation from a plasma shell to a Kert Field without gaining the resonance of an already existing reality.

I did look at the data of my experiment, but I also kept an eye on my actual occupation. I believed that it was due to my data on the small engine that I noticed the weak signal. Now that I have had time to re-examine the cameras and computer logs, I could say that my belief had support. My conclusion thus was that those that lectured their pilots to stay focused on their single mission actually promoted their boredom and the chances that they would miss minor details that could have brought a profit.

It must be understood that I am looking for the method of establishing a Kert Field without the benefit of a resonance with a distant gravity well. I did not want the influence of a gravity well, or I wanted to assure that a certain gravity well was not the reason for any activation. I thus had my equipment set to register extremely minor fluctuations in outside densities.

What I noticed was not a gravity perturbation. While Clover’s father did create a method of generating and canceling gravity waves, which also gave us a method of detecting and understanding such factors in the universe, over distance a gravity wave dissipates rather quickly. A gravity plate generating a single G and a planet generating a single G was also indistinguishable from a great distance. A small electromagnetic wave from a non-natural source however appears much different than the mass of other such waves, so that was what caught my interest.

I knew the rules, and followed them. I might not have been putting one hundred percent of my concentration on my job, but I knew why I was being paid. I did exactly as Thor had established as the methods of registering a claim.

Truthfully, killing a Kert Field does not put one dead in space. Those inside a Kert Field do not notice the change in motion because their present reality inside the plasma does not change. While we were no longer moving faster-than-light, we were still moving in the direction and at the same speed we had upon entering the Kert Field. The feeling was still one of being completely still when the distant lights of stars become static in all directions around you.

Modern entertainment would next have the captain or the person at the helm asking why I called a stop. Well, that does not happen. The first thing that occurs is that those back in the main ship check their own sensors. Only if they cannot detect a reason for the stop do they ask. In this case they quickly picked it up, so the words from my captain spoke to the problem, and did not question what the problem was.

“Watson, are you picking up the signal?”

“I am now, Thor. I want to say that I missed it because I would have been in Castle’s shadow.”

That is a problem with our technology, statements like the one Watson just made could be immediately checked. The nice thing however is that such statements can also be verified. We travel at such a great speed that electromagnetic waves can appear to bend. My instruments did show that at our velocity and direction, signals that I detected from a certain direction would not be noticed by Watson because the signals could not pass through my boat. I thus spoke in support of my fellow point pilot.

“I agree with Watson. Thor, do you want me to head on over? I am showing it to be at less than point two light years.”

“Point two light years at point two tachy will take you a year to get there, Castle. The problem is that I am not seeing a good vector.”

You see, that is the problem I am hoping to remove from our troubles at traveling through space. Something in space is presently only close if you can gain a path to quickly reach it. Thor made his money because he was at the right place at the right time with an available vehicle when a vector became published that would allow us to go to a star system that everybody else had been unable to reach. While I am certain our captain checked for possible alternatives, Watson had to assure that I was not sitting upon an easy answer.

“Hey, Castle, your little diamond did not do any tricks for you?”

I actually felt grateful that he thought to ask, although stating failure never sat easily with me. “None that I detected. That little radio blip made a much bigger result on my instruments.”

Thor responded, “Well, you probably would have done better by ignoring it. I believe it is a dead ship.”

“Out here?”

“Hell, yes, out here. Those early explorers just took off.”

Those words were not as believable as they sounded. Yes, many people did build a Kert Field and took off into space. Yes, many did not return. Still, the early explorers only had a limited number of vectors. As I activated a program to check on how the ship could have gotten to where it was, I saw a number of paths that could get me there in a minimum amount of time. The problem I considered was that Thor had a similar program, so I asked him about what he had not yet said.

“Do you want me to go or not?”

It was our helmsman that returned, “Go ahead, Castle, but you might want to take a look at the ETA before you initiate your journey.”

Don’t know how I confused ‘2dy’ with ‘2hr,’ but I had. What I thus thought would be a easy jaunt during my twelve hour shift became a long flight. I gained my log name because of the phrase, ‘A man’s home is his castle.’ I did build my boats to have all the conveniences of home. Implementing such comforts into the layers of mechanics increased my enjoyment of designing and building spacecraft. I thus could easily make such a journey, but four days of down time did not sit well with Thor. I thus waited for his decision.

The voice of our captain finally came over the speaker. “I still believe it to be a dead ship, but the database claims that it is one that is still listed as missing. It is thus an obligation to check it out.”

The voice of Watson mentioned another option. “We could return to speaking over tachy. It would help to check the source of the matter.”

It was Rachel that now said, “Give us a moment to discuss things here.”

I informed whoever might be interested, “While our captains are discussing things, I am going to check my engine while my own Kert Field is down. I might get a clearer response.”

The voice of Clover returned, “Put it on video, Castle. Might as well watch a historic event in real time.”

If we were broadcasting on tachy, I would have refused. However, those I worked with had to put up with my mumbling, and did not make me regret saying certain things. I thus trusted them, and would have allowed them to see the video anyway. I thus opened up my cameras as I again performed an experiment.

It was a standard test for those attempting to accomplish the goal I desired. I set the equipment to move at a slow speed as if there was a nearby large gravity well moving at a similar vector as my own boat. There are differences in a Kert Field and a normal plasma shell. I not only had video, but full computer readouts to provide complete data should I actually succeed or fail again. Actually having the field engage would be wonderful, but truthfully just finding some promising data would thrill me even more, because then I would be able to stretch out my joy as I worked on building one that I knew would work while I thought about my riches.

It is right there on the recordings that as Thor asked, “How long is this going to take? We are about to broadcast on tachy.” Clover blurted out, “Hey, that was a flash!”

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PostSubject: Part 3   April 30th 2010, 8:01 am

Outside - Story Nine
A Glass of Wine

Part 3

I have to admit that I responded to my captain by shutting down my engine. It was not that I did not hear what Clover said, or that he was a prankster, but I knew that I was presently on Thor’s clock. I thus reacted to his voice. I now had to admit that I wished I had let the experiment go on for a few seconds longer, as I have not been able to recreate the event. There had to be an answer somewhere in the data, but sifting through would take time. Right now I could only feel bad that I might have had my moment of extreme fame if I had not been so quick to power things down.

The voice of Malcolm came over the tachy signals. “Sorry, Outside, but I pushed a wrong button when checking my data. We however do want you to listen to this.”

I then heard No Nope speak in response. “Hey, no problem, Menlo Park, it happens. What is this that you are sending? It sounds like beeps.”

“It is on the emergency radio wavelength. No voice transmission or video. Almost would have missed, but Castle has rather good instruments. Thor here would like to have us move on, but it is not in any known location.”

“Yeah, Menlo Parks, sucks to be ‘the only ship out there.’”

No Nope tried to have the latter phrase sound eerie. Those words were a common rationale for events in space shows. Honestly they were usually the reason a ship had to make a detour. While No Nope was attempting a little humor, I knew those of us out in space understood the words as being very serious.

What usually happened next was somebody with a lot of time on their hands would tell us something about our signal. There were a number in space who researched everything that had happened in space, so could provide some background. No one however spoke with hopeful identification of the signal. That probably had Thor wishing he had not broadcast the information, although also had him feel good about authorizing us to make the detour.

When I came into the common room from the berthing hall, Clover was there with a bottle of wine. “I seriously saw a flash, Castle.”

The eyes of Watson lit up as he asked, “Wow, do we get to celebrate?”

“Not yet,” I replied. “I need to check the data.”

Watson took the bottle, studied it, then said, “I believe this is a special vintage.”

Clover replied, “Yes, my own private stock. You know that I believe we should mark special occasions.”

The voice of Thor sounded from the door to the main part of the ship, “Does that wife of yours drink?”

“No. I mean, she is not against it, but her choice is usually something else.”

I saw our captain look to me as he continued to speak to Clover. “I just ask, because I was going over the manifests of the food you are having sent out. I really did not think we needed so much extra liquids.”

“It was supposed to be mostly syrups.”

“They are, but they still took me by surprise.” Thor now turned his attention to me. “Castle, you should get your break, but you might need to pull a third shift depending on how fast we actually get to the source of this signal.”

I really did not want to complain. The extra duty would be exploratory time, but my mind was wanting to spend time on the data from my experiment. I thus voiced a complaint.

“It is just an old SOS. I don’t see how it rates a finder’s claim.”

“If you are willing to sign off…”

“Hell, no!” My sense of making money kicked back into control. “I will go verify whatever this is.”

“Good. Since no one is commenting about who this is, we can probably milk this for a few dollars by doing a little documentary about this lost explorer. Straighten your hair a little, Castle, and trim that mustache. Who knows, we might get you a wife.”

Watson must have seen a slightly less than cheerful expression on my face, because he said, “If you don’t want to do it, Castle, I will.”

I replied, “Let us see who this is. It might be someone that would be better for you to report upon.”

We really do not pick on Watson, but he was the only homosexual on board. Thus, if there was a certain reference to be made, it got directed at him. Just as if there was a lazy or ignorant statement to be made, we mentioned the name of Terry. Watson was a wonderful pilot, and person, so took my words in stride.

“Well, I will remind you of that statement should I get interested in who this person is. I however am off to enjoy my day off.”

I grabbed the bottle of wine as I said, “Well, I going to look at the data and get some sleep.”

Clover grabbed it back as he replied, “No premature celebration at my expense. You prove that you found something, and I will give you this one and another.”

Thor added his own support. “I agree with Clover. Do your work, Castle.”

I begin moving out of the common room as I said, “Don’t you worry, I would not deny myself the fun.”

I guess that it was fun. What it was not was a clear indication of success. I studied every moment of data hoping for a clue as to something desired having occurred. I went on duty feeling as if I had drank that bottle of wine, as I really got little sleep due to spending so much time studying my evidence.

The equipment was still in my boat, so I could have done the experiment again. I however felt a need to take the small engine apart and study some of its parts. I had to also allow the fact that the result had been gained when not within the confines of another Kert Field, so probably would not be duplicated while I flew point. Finally, there was the simple understanding that I was tired. I did not feel capable of competently dividing my time between my work and my play. The twelve hours of my shift stretched out ahead of me, and I looked forward to sleep when I finally returned to the Menlo Park.

I was simply lying in my bed attempting to stir myself after a number of hours of unconsciousness when the voice of Darlene came over the speaker in my room. “Felix and Sharon have been attempting to get more information from your signal, Castle, but we still get only beeps. ETA in a little over an hour.”

The voice of Watson now came over the speaker. “Not only have Felix and Indigo been attempting to figure out what this is, but most of Outside is as well. My boyfriends feel certain that it is not military, so I am not fighting you for the honor. I am thus still off duty while you and Clover get to go out.”

The voice of Clover now said, “Which is going to have me pulling three rotations as well, so you are not alone, Castle. By the way, Naomi says that she will cook you whatever you want.”

I grumbled in response, “Tell her to make it the works. All I have been doing is snacking while going over the data. I am hungry.”

The voice of the lady came in response, “You got it, Castle. Get moving or it might get cold.”

She did not have to tell me twice. I actually thought it was wonderful that she was so willing to cook. On the last voyage almost nobody cooked, and if they did they seldom shared. I thought about having a lady that would do such for me as I quickly bathed before moving to the kitchen. I however felt that my wife would throw things into the quick cooker just like I did.

As I ate, Rachel came to the kitchen table and opened up a board showing what was on the front monitor. “This is your find, Castle. We are broadcasting, but feel free to put a priority code on your signals. If you do, all that gets sent will be the view from cameras on the Menlo Park. While Clover’s cameras will be active as well, if you go private his cameras will be locked in as private as well. We won’t let out anything without your authority.”

I swallowed some food, then asked, “Any reason I will want to go private?”

“I don’t believe so. What you probably want to consider is your script for putting together a documentary on whoever this is.”

“You are suspecting a wreck?”

“Yes, I am. You should know that we fly with a number of safety features, as well just much better equipment, than those early space explorers had. I basically believe that your job will be to record the finding, discover who it was, then pay some respects. You can work on the documentary as we return to making money.”

Those who know me should not be surprised at what I said next, “I don’t watch those types of programs. I thus really don’t know what I should say.”

“You know that we all work together on our reports, Castle. Clover helps with the video with Harley and Darlene usually suggesting some corrections in what we say. It still helps to have an honest layer beneath our editing. Give us that.”

I rose from the table as I said, “Well, none of us can figure out what to say if we don’t know what we are talking about. Let me go see what I detected.”

The voice of Darlene came from the bridge. “Shutting down our points now, Castle. Harley is at her desk and will be bringing in Felix and Sharon. Your boat is warming up, as is Clover’s.”

Clover kissed his wife, then said, “I am there for you, Castle, but it is your show.”

I replied, “Not the spotlight I want to stand in, but I hope it is only practice for better things ahead. Let me finish my food.”

I wolfed down the rest of my meal, thanked Naomi, then left for my boat. I again looked at my engine, but knew that it would have to wait again. I really did not look forward to this mission. Still, it was just as much a duty of this life as flying point. I checked my spacesuit, then moved to open up a certain closet. I looked at my hard-bodied suit as I considered the problems that a wrecked spacecraft could present. I did not use this attire often, although I did perform the usual tests. I put it through another inspection, then seeing everything check out I headed to my seat to begin moving to the beacon.

I had my cameras open, so voices from others in space could be heard speaking their opinion of what I found. As I moved toward a large rock, those watching all mentioned their belief that I had indeed detected the remains of a crash. Our sensors had been highly improved over the years just because a meeting with an object at high velocities was a death sentence. The plasma field surrounding our boats does give us some protection, but we worried about meeting with something that could not be easily pushed aside or consumed. Extending the sensors in range and resolution was the primary reason that we had boats fly point. The voices over the speakers however changed in tone and subjects as I flew around to see a whole craft anchored to the rock.

It was a very early spacecraft. I doubt that it was larger than my boat, although intended for deep space travel. No luxuries were placed inside some of those early crafts. Without gravity, the early explorers considered themselves simply glad to be moving through a medium none before them could traverse. Basically, they took off in canoes to cross a large hostile ocean.

Looking over the craft, a glimmer of something near what appeared to be an open hatch caught my eye. I had a camera zoom in to make out the detail. The sight of a wine glass however caught me by surprise.

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Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
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PostSubject: Part 4   May 5th 2010, 7:48 am

Outside - Story Nine
A Glass of Wine

Part 4

A voice from somewhere else in the universe said, “Castle, it looks like there is something written on the ribbon around that goblet.”

My thoughts however focused on the fact that this was not a crash. I thus turned my camera to look for some type of identifier. All spacecraft were now supposed to be registered, but there was nothing new about having to properly license vehicles. I thus sought to quickly identify the person who owned this craft. All I however could see was some blue letters spelling the word, ‘Stallion.’ Not feeling that it was enough information, I turned my attention back to the wine glass.

I had come closer to the craft, but I also had the ability to gain some high magnification. Once I had the goblet back in my view, I zoomed in to make out the writing on the yellow ribbon tied around the stem. I gasped as those watching from large distances read the words, ‘To my hero.’

Not being able to gain any conclusions from my present condition, I made a decision. “I am going to have to close. Clover, are you watching?”

“Oh, yes, I am getting this. Not what we were expecting.”

The voice of Darlene said, “The craft is turned away from us, Castle. We are watching your camera feed and that from Clover.”

I replied, “I am not trusting this. I checked my hard-bodied suit before leaving. I am going out in it.”

The voice of Thor said in return, “Glad that I don’t have to give any lectures about safety. If we can help in any way, let us know.”

I moved from my pilot’s seat as I asked, “Can anyone tell me who this was?”

A voice answered, “This is Betty Landry of the U.I.W. There is no listing for a craft named the ‘Stallion.’ That is a propellant craft, though. No telling who built it.”

One of the first space laboratories, Skylab, had been built from an old rocket booster. As men continued to move into space, more rocket boosters became scrapped. With Arnold Kert demonstrating that his engine could operate in an atmosphere, although at a great expenditure of fuel, people on Earth began building spacecraft out of a number of materials. The reality of space however presented a number of problems to normal construction. Rocket boosters were built to handle the stresses of spaceflight, so those that could grab one did. Obviously, no one knew who gained this unused booster and sent it into space.

After assuring everything about my spacesuit, I removed the atmosphere from my craft. I also turned off the gravity. After assuring that I had all proper safety devices, I floated to my airlock.

The voice of Naomi came over my speakers. “I have your vitals on my board, Castle. Everything looks fine.”

“That is good. Let me know if something goes wrong, Naomi, because I am going to be focusing on finding out who this is. I will be looking for a computer. I mean, this thing shouldn’t be that old.”

A voice from somewhere said, “It might be binary.”

Clover replied, “If I cannot read it, we can hook it up to Diamond’s system.”

The voice of our oldest pilot said, “All right, youngsters. What all this says is that this is probably older than me. So show some respect.”

I floated toward the craft looking for any sign of problems. I almost immediately saw something that gave me concern. Straps held the vehicle to the large rock, so no wreck had occurred and the mutual weak gravity of the two masses had caused them to remain together. Something had however caused the pilot to come to this place, because I saw that work had been done to the engine.

Everything stayed quiet for period, I guess waiting for me to approach, but finally somebody figured out why I stayed back. “What was done to the engine?”

I answered, “I was wondering what had broke, but I cannot see anything damaged. It looks like the intakes were being immediately fed back into the plasma igniter. There is an air system attached as well. I guess to increase pressure?”

The voice of the YOU administrator said, “Go on in and find that computer, Castle. It hopefully will answer all of our questions.”

I was beginning to have more questions than I thought could be answered. I however went ahead and moved towards the craft. I saw Clover’s vessel reposition itself to where it could have some vision through the hatch. Feeling that everyone would soon get some answers, I landed on the vehicle.

Clover asked, “Are you going to get the glass?”

“I don’t feel like any hero. Uh,” I put a camera close to the glass as I said, “there appears to be some type of residue in the goblet.”

I found myself surprised to actually hear the voice of our chemist. “It’s wine, Castle. It surely boiled away in the vacuum before it could be set there.”

“Strange,” I replied before adding, “I’m going in.”

There was not much room on the inside. No pilot’s seat, but just controls at the front. It looked like the pilot floated while holding onto handlebars when directing the craft. A simple kitchen composed of a water tube, an oven, and a place to dispose of waste. The walls were mostly the metal handles to compartments of various sizes. No up or down, as without gravity there really is no need for such directions. Most of the internal space was filled with a spacesuited corpse.

Somebody from somewhere asked, “Is there still air in the suit?”

I almost gagged before replying, “No. I have heard of this, but never seen it.”

A tube could be seen poking through the spacesuit. The vacuum of space causes a body to explode as the pressure inside releases. By running a tube down one’s esophagus, then opening the other end to the cosmos, one could have the vacuum pull from the inside. The damage to body ended up being the same, but with less mess.

The voice of Darlene spurred me on. “Hold yourself together, Castle. Find out who this person is.”

I looked around for some sign of who the person was. I opened some compartments looking for mementoes, music, videos, anything to tell me about this person. I saw a number of empty spaces, although I finally found something providing personal information. I found plain white panties and bras. The one that had died here had been a lady.

I had heard some comments, but none were directed at me. What I basically heard were the emotions that I did not release. I felt an awe in this place, and speaking actually felt wrong. Wondering whose tomb I had defiled, I moved to the front.

I believe that the computer logic was binary. There was no nuclear reactor, but at the age of this craft such a power supply would no longer be reliable. How she powered her Kert Field I cannot say. Not being able to power the ancient devices, I pulled out tools and began disassembling some components. It was all ancient hardware to me and those watching, but we managed to identify enough to assure that what I brought back would give us some answers.

Returning to the Menlo Park, it took me and Clover to pull the data. In working with the Amish, Clover had some knowledge in biasing his five-bit computer logic to work with previous simpler electronic signals. I knew enough electronics to help him connect the wiring. Both of us kept referring to the database of old manuals. Finally, we felt safe to try and replay the information.

Her name was Jane Blankenship. She was a hardware geek, like me. She spoke of once having a motorbike, but then having it claimed by the authorities on Earth. She mentioned its poor fuel economy even as she spoke of its power. Arnold Kert did not so much give her the ability to move into space, but to again build engines of power. Jane had not rushed out into space to claim distant stars, but to again feel the strength of a grand motor propelling her along at tremendous speeds.

I felt a connection to her. Watching her reports I could tell that she also had no respect for the dictatorship of those Inside. While at her time Inside only included those upon the Earth, I sensed that she would share our jokes and opinions of those that did not leave the oppression of a confined place. I felt that I would like talking to her.

Jane had long dark hair. The muscles of her body softened as the lack of gravity failed to keep them stressed. She had dark brown eyes. I enjoyed simply looking at her as she made her reports.

She had run out of food, then realized that she could not return to Earth. That was the problem with Kert Fields, you needed to get resonance with a far distant star. She was still very early in the technology, so a number of tricks we used to find new vectors had not been developed. While she had found a star to take her out in one direction, she could not find another to bring her back.

I watched in amazement as she spoke of doing the very thing I sought to do. She had tried to rework her engine to simply have it take her in the direction and velocity she desired. I listened to her plans thinking them so very wrong, but I could not help but stay fascinated at her simple knowledge of the physics and what she hoped to achieve. I sketched out what I had seen while jotting notes as I listened to her proposal for getting herself home.

Jane did not come home, of course. Choosing not to die of starvation, she worked to leave her body with some dignity. I held back tears as I heard her final words.

“This goblet is for you, whoever you are. You don’t owe me anything. I lived life on my own terms. Just, drink a toast to my memory. A glass of wine to my memory is all I ask. I know that my hero won’t come in time to rescue me, but I also don’t want you to feel that you came in vain. Drink to my memory, then let me rest in peace. I died free, so set my soul free as well. If you do that, I promise to wait for you in the world to come. While you could not come to me in time, I will come to you. We can share a toast together, then we can return to our paths through eternity.”

As the report ended, I heard the voice of my captain from behind me. “You can work on your report, but I am moving us along. Nothing more to do here.”

I almost nodded, but as I wiped my eyes I said, “Wait just a little while longer, Thor.” I turned to the lady that had her office in the common area. “Harley, warm up my boat.”

Indigo was nearby, and she said, “My boat is already warming up, Castle. What do you need?”

“The wine glass.”

She moved to the shelves, then took out a wine glass as she said, “Cannot have you drinking alone, Castle. I am thus going to put another one in its place.”

I told the lady thanks, then went to my room. I feel that both Jane and I were born too soon. If we had instead lived in the far future where almost all of known space had been settled by men, I believe that both of us would indeed have been ones to frequent those dismal distant bars filled with aliens. I also believe that we would have shared enough interests that our meeting would have been something more than a passing nod. We however were both citizens of the past when there was nothing in the far reaches of space for us to stray into. Jane had died because of that, and we were both alone.

Indigo did get the wine glass for me. I almost did not want to wash it, but I knew Jane would not have me drink out of a dirty vessel. I drank that glass of wine to her memory. I then followed it with another as I named my small experimental engine. It would be called Jane, and someday she and I would figure out how to open up the stars so those in the future would not be alone, but would have far distant bars to visit and gain a possible companion.

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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