Origin #12 – Man and the Machine (Part 6)

Matt picked her up and as they sat in the lounge with Anna clinging desperately to Matt he told her in a calm and even tone, the events of yesterday. Even the part about trying to bargain with aliens about not being anal-probed. She smiled at the funny parts and asked a lot of questions when he told her again about what Sam had said about their ancestors having settled on Earth after realising they couldn’t go back to the Empire.

She became very focused when he explained about the Skrill, which phased back into the visible spectrum. She ran her hands over it, which produced some odd sensations across the neural link between matt and h’Kel. After about 2 hours of talk and many reassurances that he wasn’t making anything up or lying to her, Anna asked if they could go see the ship.

It’s not that I think your lying or making it up any more, I just don’t think I’ll really be able to believe it until I see it Matt. If that’s alright with Sam that is.”

Matt chuckled, “Sam’s probably been listening since I first told you about him, he has a tendency to keep tabs when my vitals change unexpectedly.”

Anna’s face went dead white as she realised what he was alluding to, “So you’re saying….”

No.” Matt said, “Sam just made sure I wasn’t in any danger and then gave us our privacy.” At which Anna blushed furiously.

So, can I see this ship of yours?” Anna begged. Matt looked at her with a slight smile before saying, “Of course you can, just one second.”

Matt’s glance all of a sudden became very far away and he said, “Sam, can you have a maintenance bot come up to the house, fill and retrieve a barrel of water like we were discussing last night. I want to set up the hydrolysis stand today, and get some power flowing back into storage.”

Matt looked faraway for a moment longer as Sam and he communicated. Then Matt’s eyes refocused and he said, “Alright let’s go.” Anna wondered what had just happened but Matt would only say, “Later, come on.”

Matt had Anna put on some spare walking shoes and he didn’t miss an opportunity to get in a friendly grope here and there. Anna sighed and giggled and playfully swatted at him as now fully ready they ventured out of the house, down through the yard and onto the old game trail that led through the scrub to the running tracks that Matt’s Dad had claimed from the bush. They were mostly old game trails anyway, so they needed little maintenance, he had just widened them was all. It wasn’t long until they came to what was now a cave entrance that used to be the trail marker rock.

Matt led Anna inside and asked Sam if he could light the path down to the ship. A minute during which Anna’s faith in Matt was tested, then as the lights flickered to life in a line that raced towards them her faith was rewarded. The correct path was illuminated and they could proceed on towards the ship.

After nearly a half hour of following the lights into the depths during which a maintenance bot whizzed past them on it’s way to acquire the water Matt had asked for. The cavern roof suddenly whisked away from just above their heads to a vaulted ceiling far above them. Anna looked around wildly as she realised that she was looking deep into the Great Diving Range. They kept walking to what she thought was a massive sheer wall until she realised that this was the ship itself.

Her legs started to give way as the sheer utter truth of what Matt had told her finally registered. Matt held her upright until the moment passed with a slight chuckle. As they at last reached one of the fore air-locks the maintenance bot that had been dispatched to retrieve the barrel of water Matt had asked for beat them to a service hatch located a few metres to the side of the airlock. Without any delay the bot entered the ship looking as if it blended right through the inner door. The hatch then soundless closed behind the bot to both Matt and Anna’s astonishment.

Shall we?” Matt asked, to Anna’s outrageous grin. Matt stopped in-front of the airlock and reached out one hand to a part of the frame which split into a small series of segmented buttons. He input his code and the buttons returned to being a frame and the airlock cycled open. The decontamination sequence started with a blue strip that appeared on the walls and the floor. It swept through the room three times as the airlock cycled the external air to ship board conditions. Ten seconds later Sam announced, “Decontamination cycle completed. Captain is aboard, AI relinquishing command and returning to regular duties mode.”

After they cleared decon, Anna took her first few steps inside the ship proper. SHe let go of Matt’s hand as she too became the country bumpkin fresh come to civilisation. Everywhere she looked she saw wonder beyond belief. While she did not look with Matt’s scientific perspective she saw with a human and a woman’s eye how form followed function here, but so too curiously did aesthetics. This ship was designed on the inside at least to be both practical as well as elegant. When the walls cycled through different colours and then outlined a path off into the distance Annna thought about never leaving this palace of wonders.

She turned back to matt and literally threw herself into his arms as she bestowed a passionate kiss upon him. “Ohh this place is unreal, I didn’t really believe you, not completely until that airlock cycled through. So, what are you going to do with her, and how can I help?”

Matt grinned at her, he had hoped she would want in. “To your first question, I intend to repair her, and get her back up into space as soon as she is space worthy. After that….”

“So you’re not giving this up to the government then?” Anne interrupted.

“No!” Matt said as he shook his head empthatically, “How soon do you think it would be before this secret got back to the Americans and they came knocking at our front door. Mankind is not ready to control the future this ship represents. Until that changes I will not surrender this ship to anyone.”

Anna stared hard at him, as if her next statement was the final part of some test, “So you believe yours are the right hands soldier-boy hmm?”

Matt sighed, “This miracle, the Kovali is a ship, MY ship and it is not a sentient flying weapon. You do realise that with this ship I could conquer the entire world and rule by force from space within a day? Yet my goal is to take her back into space. Yet you ask me why I’m the right one to control this power. There is your answer, I can’t think of a single government who wouldn’t kill us for this ship. Or just make it so we never existed.”

“Then they’d strip this ship to the bare frame work and turn even the bolts into weapons. Can you image the sheer bloody carnage weapons this advanced would cause. Let alone the micro-fusion technology to power generations worth of new and improved machines of death.”

Matt cut his rant off and he turned away from Anna in disgust at the thought of what she had asked. Moments later he felt Anna hug him from behind as she rested her head on his shoulder. “You are my love and from now on my Captain. I would like to see the galaxy with you if you’ll have me.” She whispered into his ear.

Matt turned around and said, “Are you sure?” Anna nodded her head while biting her lip, meaning that this decision scared the hell out of her, but she was still here. “Very well, Sam by the authority granted to me as Captain of this vessel under the Second Axiom of Imperial Militar Code Section 27 Ordinance Zero One CHarlie. I hereby induct Anastasia Vidalus into the Imperial Navy at the Rank of Colonel and assign her to the Kovali as Executive Officer.”

“Authorisation accepted, Colonel Vidalus you are required to report to medical bay for physical profiling and induction training.”

Matt smiled a saucy smile at Anna as she looked at Matt and mouthed, “Colonel Vidalus?” She shook her head to clear the momentary amusement before saying “Alright, which way?”

Matt didn’t even have time to come up with a smart remark before a blue arrow appeared in the middle of the floor, it streaked off into the distance at a steady pulsing pace, leaving behind a distinct line for Anna to follow. Anna squared her shoulders as she marched off down the corridor, looking like she was about to engage in battle, as Matt’s softly laughed thinking maybe she wasn’t half wrong.

Matt suddenly alone stood looking to all the world like a grinning loon and with a shake of his head and a snort he took a different corridor leading down to the flight deck. “Sam, when you’ve finished getting Anna up to speed. Can you have her join me?”

Yes Captain,” Sam responded. “Matt, do you think I should call Anna by her rank or her first name as I do with you?”

Matt thought for a second while he turned a corner before saying, “She’ll probably want to be called by her name in non-formal situations. But I think the best policy will be to ask every new crew member how they prefer to be addressed. In fact make it part of you induction SOP routines.”

Aye, Captain.” Sam responded, leaving Matt in silence as he continued on towards the flight deck.

Fourty minutes later, a rather shaky Anna entered the flight deck where Matt and a maintenance bot were it appeared to be tinkering around a stand containing a micro-fusion core, three containers and what looked like a series of hoses leading in two directions off into the distance and a central device that she couldn’t identify.

When Anna finally reached them Matt looked up at her from the deck with a great big grin on his face. “I think this is actually going to work Anna.” He stood up, turned around and kneeled down as he procceeded to work with no explanation. He continued to use a plasma based combination welder and blow torch, a scanning device and the imperial equivalent of a multi-metre.

Anna stared at the contraption and opened her mouth to ask exactly what the hell Matt was doing when he said. “Alright, so the problem is the Kovali’s back up power cells are drained near to the point of depletion. Sam’s got enough power for like a few more days at current usage. But, we don’t have any anti-matter for the reactor and most of the remaining hydrogen that was stored was used up getting the Kovali down onto the planet. And the strike craft’s Micro-Cores don’t have a high enough power output to run Sam or enough fuel to start up a Fusion reactor.”

Anna was starting to get impatient waiting for the part where he told her what he was doing. “I know that Matt, how does this whatever it is fix our problems.”

Matt turned to look at her with a cheeky grin. “It’s a hydrolysis rig.” As Anna continued to look blankly at Matt he snorted and said, “Were you not paying attention in basic science at highschool. Water…” and he pointed to the third tank which was currently being filled with a clear substance from a barrel by a maintenance drone. “…Is made up of chemically of hydrogen and two oxygen molecules. With a electric charge you can cause the chemical bonds to break apart leaving you…” and he pointed to one tank “chemically pure oxygen…” as he turned her to the other tank “…and more importantly pure unadulterated hydrogen. With which we can use to start up one of the several fusion reactors and start recharging the power cells.” Matt turned back to look at the rig, “It’s a long cry from the power levels required to get the ship even remotely operational let alone break orbit. But it’ll do for now and Sam was talking about burrowing into the underground aquifer once he’s got the juice. There are a few kinks I’ve still got to solve but I really think it’ll work..”

Matt turned back to see a flabbergasted Anna, “Hun, what’s the matter.” He said as he took a step towards her.

I don’t know what to say, are you sure it’s going to work. You said something about kinks?”

Matt’s face split open in a grin again as he said, “Yeah, well basically the fighter’s use a self-contained miniature version of a fusion reactor. The problem with that is Fusion itself, it’s like an internal combustion engine.”

Anna tilted her head slightly as she tried to process what he was saying. “How is having a miniature fusion reactor a problem? And what do you mean it’s like a car engine, I would have thought that thing would have been lightyears ahead of a car.”

Matt shrugged “Well, yes and no. Fusion basically is shove two particles into a chamber, add heat or compression in the form of gravity and as they fuse the reaction releases a massive burst of energy. Just like a car, the piston sucks in the fuel, compresses the fuel for ignition BAM and then removes the waste products in a way that resets the chamber for the next bang. The problem is, all Imperial technology runs off the super heated plasma. So I’ve had to jerryrig a combination of a thermionic inducer and a plasma flow regulator to strip the electrons out of the plasma flow to use them to hydrolise the water.”

Matt stood back and looked at her expectantly. “Ok…” Anna said, “…so Sam’s not going to run out of power, that’s just one of the many things on the to-do list. We’re going to need a…”

Matt looked at Anna like she’d lost her mind. “Do you realise what I’ve just built. Basically human built Fusion reactors like ITER are currently a academic exercise. Because no one’s come up with a way to get a sustained ouput, or it to produce anything useful. Human technology doesn’t run on confined plasma, it runs on electricity and they can’t get electricity out of plasma.”

Anna looked at him stupified for a moment before it began to dawn on her. “So you’re saying, that in about 20 minutes you’ve….”

Matt smiled to himself in smug satisfaction. “That about sums it up.”

Anna gave him a brief moment to bask in the glow of being the potential saviour of mankind from climate change if only he could tell someone before punching him in the arm hard. “We’ve got a lot of work to do CAPTAIN. Besides it’s nearing midnight, do you want to sleep down here on the ship or back at your place.”

Well,” Matt said. “I’ll have to think about that…” as he looked at Anna with a twinkle in his eye.

Author’s Note : So this will bring us to the end of the second arc of Origins. Yes it’s been quite a bit topsy turvy but I’m looking forward towards the next arc as it brings in more characters and starts to set the tone for the rest of the series. Next Arc will also see the introduction of one or more of those dastardly villians. Can’t have epic pew pew if there is no one to shoot at now eh 😛

As always your comments and feedback are appreciated.

Side note : I am still looking for an editor, If you want the job you can DM me through discord or message me here on Disquis

Origin #11 - Man and the Machine (Part 5)