Habitats (an Ell Donsaii story #7)

BOOK: Habitats (an Ell Donsaii story #7)
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Habitat
s

 

An Ell Donsaii story # 7

 

 

By

 

 

Laurence E Dahners

 

Copyright 2013 Laurence E Dahners

Kindle
Edition

 

 

Author’s Note

 

 

Though this book
can
“stand alone” it will be
much
easier to understand if read as part of the series including

“Quicker (an Ell Donsaii story)” 

“Smarter (an Ell Donsaii story #2)”

“Lieutenant
(an Ell Donsaii story #3)”

“Rocket (an Ell Donsaii story #4)

“Comet! (an Ell Donsaii story #5)”
and

“Tau Ceti (an Ell Donsaii story #6).”

 

I have minimized repetition of explanations that would be redundant to the earlier books in order to provide a better reading experience for those of you who are reading the series.

 

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. 

 

 

Preprologue

 

Allan Donsaii was an unusually gifted quarterback. He was widely recognized to be startling strong and
a phenomenally accurate passer. During his c">
without any
interceptions and two games with 100 percent completions. Unfortunately, he wasn’t drafted because the pro teams felt he was too small.

Kristen
Taylor captained her college soccer team and was extraordinarily quick. She rarely played a game without a “steal” and usually had many.

Allan and Kristen dated more and more seriously throughout college and
married at the end of their senior year. Their friends teased them that they were only marrying so that they could start their own sports dynasty.

Their
daughter Ell had Kristen’s quickness, magnified by Allan’s strength and accuracy. The child
also
had a new mutation affecting the myelin sheaths surrounding her nerves. This mutation produced nerve transmission speeds that were nearly double those of normal neurons. Nerve impulse transmissions being faster, she had
much
quicker reflexes. Yet the new myelin sheath was also thinner, allowing more axons, and therefore more neurons, to be packed into the same sized skull. These two factors resulted in a brain which had more neurons, though it wasn’t larger
and
a more rapid processing speed, akin to a computer with a smaller scale CPU architecture that enables faster processor speeds.

Most importantly, under the influence of adrenalin in a “fight or flight” situation, her nerves
would transmit even more rapidly than their normally phenomenal speed.

Much
more rapidly…

 

Prologue

 

Washington D.C.—President Flood defended his administration’s decision to request that Portal Technologies continue their slow ramping up of port production. It has been two and a half years since the ports resulting from Ell Donsaii’s seminal theories burst into the public’s awareness when she used them in diverting Comet Hearth-Daster. Initially the public clamor was for delayed release in order to prevent economic disaster in the various industries that the ports would render obsolescent. However, a rising tide of opinion is demanding more rapid release so that the people can realize the tremendous benefits that will…

 

Ben Stavos called out to Ell as she walked through the ET Resources’ research area at D5R. “Ell, you’ve got to come over and check out our new toy!”

“What have you got?”

“Hah! I’m not telling!  You’ve got to come and
see
. I totally refuse to give away my littlesurprise
.

“OK,
” Ell said, turning his way with a grin, “but after that build up you’d better dazzle me.” She saw a funny chair that seemed much like a saddle D5D with stirrups for the feet. On the table in front of it were a pair of long sparkly gloves. The wrists and elbows of the gloves were attached to the shoulder area of the chair with a ball joint and rod arrangement.

“Take a seat,” Ben said sounding excited. “
Put the PGR chip from your head band into this one.” He held out a larger headband with screens that would completely cover the eyes.

Ell noticed the new headband also had a sparkly surface. “What’s with the glitter?” she asked pulling off
her AI (Artificial Intelligence) headband and pulling the PGR communication chip out of the back of it. She socketed the PGR chip into the bigger headband thus connecting it to the computer that her AI, Allan, ran on.

“It’s just to make it
dazzling!” he said, but then he laughed, “Actually the infrared cameras on the desk use the ‘glitter’ to locate your gloves and head in space.”

Ell took a seat on the saddle, stuck her feet in the stirrups and picked up the gloves. “
Okaay,” she said, realizing that small linear motors bridged from the fingers to the thumbs so that she wouldn’t actually be able to pick anything up in her hands once her fingers were in the gloves. Setting the gloves back down, she picked up the big headband and settled it onto her head. The room disappeared and she found herself looking into a three dimensional view of space. Heavily strewn stars covered a portion of her field of view. The bottom part of her view field had a number of objects in it, most of them looking like broken rock. To her lower left she saw a large metal structure. Ell tilted her head in consideration and the view tilted too. Her eyes widened and she tipped her head down which brought the broken rock into the center of her field.

There
was a pair of mechanical arms hanging in front of her! “Cool!” she exclaimed. She reached out and felt for the gloves. As she suspected, when her fingers bumped a glove and moved it, the right mechanical arm moved a little in her field of view.

By touch
, she slid her hands into the gloves, watching the mechanical hands wiggle around as she did so. Once her fingers were all the way into the gloves, she tried opening and closing her hands. The mechanical hands opened and closed as if they were her own. They had a thumb, an index finger and a single “mitten” like group for the small, ring and long fingers. Sure enough, when she lifted her arms, the mechanical arms lifted. Ell reached out and without difficulty grabbed one of the rocks. When she squeezed, she felt resistance as if she actually had it in her hand!

Excitedly Ell pulled her hands out of the gloves and reached up
, pulling off the head gear. “This is amazing! The little linear motors between the fingertips in the gloves are what give you the sensation you’re actually holding and squeezing something?”

Ben grinned at her, “Yep.”

Glancing at the jointed apparatus going to the gloves from the shoulders of the chair she said, “And the resistance when I tried to move the rock came from this?”

He nodded.

She tilted her head, “So what do you plan to do with this?”

Ben raised an eyebrow, “Do you mean, whaty Eu mean, good is it?”

Ell shrugged, “Well yeah. It’s a pretty cool simulation of working in space, but… with your goals of colonizing and building industry in space… how does this fit?” Her brow wrinkled, “As a training aid?”

Ben’s smile nearly split his face, “Hah!” he looked up at
his assistant John, “We put one over on the genius!” He reached out and pulled some tape off the front of the station Ell sat in front of. A label hidden behind the tape said, “Waldo.”

Ell’s e
yes widened as she stared at it; then looked up at Ben. “Really!? This is going to be a control station for some mechanical arms out in space?”

Ben smirked, “That’s not what it’s
‘going’ to be. That’s what it
is
.”

Ell turned back to the station and picked up the headgear. “You mean… what I’m seeing here is really
… from a set of binocular cameras out in space, not some virtual simulation?!”

As Ell slid her hands back into the gloves she heard Ben say, “Yep.”

“And these mechanical arms are
really
out there too?”

“Yep.”

“And those rocks are really some fragments from one of your asteroids?”

Ell could hear the triumph in Ben’s voice as he said “Yep,” once again.

“And my mechanical arms. What are they attached to?”

“Your mechanical torso.”

Ell snorted. “Yeah sure!” she said leaning her head forward and down to look at where her abdomen would be. To her astonishment, a torso did indeed swim into view with “Waldo 1” stenciled across its chest. No legs though. As she leaned forward farther, the stars began to roll into view below her torso. “Wait, my waldo seems to be rolling over frontwards. Isn’t it attached to anything?”

“Nope, not attached to anything. Lean back to stop that roll.”

Ell leaned back and sure enough the speed with which the stars were rolling by slowed and then reversed. “Really? Not tethered at all? What if I knock my waldo away into space? How do I get it back to the station?”

“Well, now that you’ve stopped your roll, lean to the right.”

Ell did and her view rolled to the right. She leaned to the left and brought her view back to what she thought of as “upright.”

“Twist to the right.”

Ell did and her field of view began to rotate to the right. She let it continue rolling and the earth swam by, then the moon, then her field of rocks and a large metal box. She stopped the rotation. “So leaning and twisting in the saddle controls attitude jets on my ‘torso’?”

“Got it in one. Now push down lightly on the stirrups
with your feet.”

Ell tried it and
the view in her headgear gave her the sensation that she was shooting up into the air… or vacuum, or whatever.

“Pull up on the stirrups.”

When Ell did that she slowed, then began “descending.” She gradually sank back to about the location she had started from and pushed down on the stirrups to stop her motion. “So, the stirrups make me go up and down, cool.”

“Yeah.
We bought the arms and head from a company that’s been making them for working in dangerous environments. Of course they were all wired and set up to be stationary or to be rolled around on wheels. We put the wiring through a port so it’s mobile and installed the attitude jets. The jets are all compressed air jets except for one big nozzle on the bottom of the torso which is a real rocket. It’s big so you can fly from place to place out there. But you have to tell your AI you want to use it so you don’t accidentally fire the big rocket when you just want to move a little bit or when the nozzle is sitting on something important. Actually, you’d want the AI to fly you if you were going somewhere that was very far, since you’d need to calculate orbital mechanics to go a long distance, not just point yourself that direction and fire off.”

With a
series of small twists, leans and pulls, Ell stopped herself next to the asteroid fragments. She grasped one in her left mechanical hand and tossed it gently over to the right hand, catching it there. “Wow! This whole setup is amazingly responsive! It feels just about like I’m actually tossing a rock.” She bobbled the rock, “Except for the lack of gravity. It’s hard not to expect to catch it a little lower… So you’re planning to use it for construction, instead of men in spacesuits?” She pulled her hands out of the gloves and reached up to pull off the headband, turning to look at Ben.

“Yeah.
You know how it takes quite a period of time breathing oxygen to decompress and get in a spacesuit? Then even after you’re in the suit at low pressure, the suit is still very clumsy because the air pressure inside of it resists everything you want to do? Worse, we want to do a
lot
of work in space, and much of that outside of low earth orbit. Out there, radiation is a real problem for flesh and blood workers. Waldo and his brethren are dexterous, radiation tolerant, easy to boot up and can work 24/7. They can even do
some
kinds of repetitive work with just AI’s directing them. And the things that
do
need a person driving them can be done by people here on earth working shifts. They can even go home to their families when they aren’t at work.”

“But, don’t you want to go to space
yourself?”

“Sure,
” Ben grinned, “After Waldo has built me a nice safe habitat out there.”

Ell grinned up at him. “Ben, this is amazing. What are your plans now?”

“Get the company that sold us this one to build a couple hundred more ported waldoes, or at least, as many as we think we can afford. Until now they’ve only made them a few at a time, so they’re preparing a bid for volume production. We want to send some to the asteroid we’re mining. Use some to bun ee some ild us a habitat in low earth orbit and others to start building a real habitat out at L5. It’ll really help us start bringing in money to have waldoes out there to improve our asteroid mining operations. So far our volume of ore retrieved has been low, but we’ve been making a profit anyway because the ore is so high value due to its high percentage of rare metals. At L5 we plan low gravity manufacturing on a large scale that should also help our bottom line.”

Ben shrugged, “Those are our plans anyway. I don’t think we’ll be able to afford as many waldoes as we’d like. Do you think D5Rs investors would be willing to put up some more cash to get us off to a faster start?”

Ell had seen Roger and Emma walking toward the Quantum Research area, “Emma, Roger,” she called, “come check this out.”

Ben got a little nervous as Ell took Roger and Emma through a demonstration of Waldo and what it could do. He worried that she was just putting off an answer about the likelihood of further investment from D5R’s
mysterious financial backers. While he believed in the waldoes enough to put a proposal forward without Ell’s support, everyone knew that the money people tended to follow Ell’s recommendations. His nervousness skyrocketed when Ell sat back down on the saddle and started putting Waldo through his paces, spinning him one way, then the other, doing rolls, tossing pieces of asteroid back and forth. He felt sure she was about to break Waldo 1, but his eyes widened as she pushed the mechanical man far beyond what Ben had thought Waldo’s limits were. She brought him to a stop and took off the gloves and headset, grinning at Emma and Roger, “Phil’s gonna be so pissed!”

“Who?” Ben asked.

“Phil’s her astronaut ex-boyfriend.” Emma said.

“Yeah, he’s going to feel like we’re stealing astronaut’s jobs.” Ell snorted. “But you’re right, this will be much safer. How long have you guys been working on this?”

“Months and months. We really got started way back when we were having so much trouble gathering the ore from the asteroid. We needed someone to be ‘hands on’ with the equipment out there but started realizing how dangerous it would be to send out a live astronaut.”

BOOK: Habitats (an Ell Donsaii story #7)
10.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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