Spacetrains Are For Peacetime

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"Spacetrains Are For Peacetime" was my first real effort to write a vigorous space adventure based on the KESTS to GEO concept, yet in the saga of stories written later, it is the next to last story, ending with a scenario situation that becomes that which is seen at the start of the novel "It's Down to Earth".


Spacetrains Are For Peacetime

- A Science Fiction story by Jim Cline

 

- introduced concepts of using a simulation game built into console of actual vehicle used in a scramble activity

 

My earthlink.net page devoted to this story: http://home.earthlink.net/~jedcline/stafp.html

 

Ch.1 Defending KESTS to GEO

 

As a military man, John Foursight had been against there being efforts to defend the KESTS space rail structure from the beginning. It was known from before it was built that it was much too vulnerable to attacks from saboteurs and hostile groups in wartime; the dispersability of a multitude of free-flying space vehicles was strategically much better than the lumbering space train rail system so immobile and predictable as to position, being attached to the ground. Why keep on defending the spacerail KESTS, why not just abandon it and let the earthsurface pirates knock it down, let the pirates die in their own wastes, then go back and rebuild the KESTS and resume fulfillment of the plan to restore the planet's ecosystem embarked upon so many decades ago. After all, the KESTS spacerail was just an electric motor, and motors could be rebuilt; and in the meantime they could use reaction engines to make up for losses slowing the great ring of structures in GEO. Yet, John was a man of duty, and he would do his duty the very best he could.

 

Idly he thought, why should he now be risking his life to defend a mere electric motor? He mentally explored the basics of KESTS as he cruised alongside the great spacerail structure, drifting downward from GEO toward a landing near its ground terminal on the far side of the planet. Yes, the spacerail KESTS was just a big electric motor with two kinds of coupled armatures, in the shape of an orbital transfer trajectory ellipse between equatorial ground radius and GEO radius. The electric motor was a fixed structure relative to the planet, and provided the hard vacuum environment for the 20 km/h armature mass stream along their maglev tracks where near the planet in the atmsphere. 


Constrained to a path similar to an orbital transfer trajectory, the armature segments were going twice as fast as orbital trajectory, so their excess centrifugal force pressed outward against the stator with an upward force adequate4 to support their own mass within the gravitational field. The planet's gravitational field was equivalent to the motor's axle, and the bearings were maglev tracks along which the millions of armature segments continuously slid around the planet on the underside of the immense electric motor's stator. Electrical energy was input to the motor at the ground connection site at the equator, by electromagnetically accellerating the armature segments passing by there as they slid at 20 km/h along the stator's maglev tracks around the planet. 


A tremendous amount of energy was kinetically stored in those high velocity armature segments traveling at far above orbital velocity as they whirled around and around the planet inside the motor's stator, their excess velocity providing the outward centrifugal force that balanced most of weight of the motor's stator and its live loads. That same stored kinetic energy was tapped by the vehicles as they slid along different maglev tracks on the outer edge of the motor's stator, the vehicle electrodynamic braking against the upward-bound armature mass streams inside the motor, lifting them up along the outer surface of the gigantic motor all the way from the ground up to the Geostationary Earth Orbit.

 

The originally emplaced KESTS had been expanded in girth from its hair-diameter starting version, up until it got as big as it is now, able to transport a million people a day with their household possessions, a task it started 35 years ago and had performed for 20 years, before the pirates attacked at the last weeks of the population's temporary exodus from the ground. An exodus which was to have been temporary for much of the population, until the earth's ecosystem could be restored to long term viability. 


But a bunch of pirates had stopped the process 15 years ago, militarily restricting the Clarke Belt Habitat Ring people to an area they can visit on the ground to about a hundred miles around from the KESTS ground terminal site centered where it tunneled through the Andes mountains in Equador. And for the past 5 years the pirates had been attempting to destroy the KESTS link to the ground, claiming the entire planet as theirs alone. And so as both sides of the conflict learned through experience, the attacks on the KESTS were getting increasingly close to success, despite the patrol ships which protected the KESTS. John believed that the KESTS was inadequately defensible, it was a peacetime kind of transportation system, almost indefensible.

 

Yet here John was, on his fourth cycle of patrolling down the eastward side of the kinetically supported rail track, thoroughly committed to playing out the deadly duel of space-to-space missiles if an attacker suddenly appeared in his sphere of action.

 

Armed with a guided missile, he would be able to destroy an incoming bombship before it impacted the rail structure, saving the space train but not its live cargo in the vicinity nor John himself. Nor the pilot of that incoming bombship, but then, those pilots knew they were near their end at the moment they launched, one way or the other. He swayed the trajectory a little, adding another component to the randomness that weaved side to side of the rail structure, getting an unpredictable peek at the part of space that was shadowed moments before by the rail structure. His reaction engines kept him close to the structure, but maintained a trajectory that if dead-sticked somehow, it would not impact the space train rail structure. Down John drifted in his fighter spacecraft, gradually to circle halfway around the planet in the process of losing the 22,300 miles of altitude from his starting point in the Clarke Belt Habitat Ring, now out of sight far above him....

 

The massive rocket engines suddenly thundered beneath her, and the brief moment of dismay at surely being now on a suicide mission, quickly gave way to the intention that she, Donna Bullguarde, would be the proud one to finally bring down the KESTS, the hated spacerail link between the arrogant Clarke Belt Nation and the great Sovereign Nation of Earthsurface.

 

She had been taking her turn atop the massive rocket, as usual, to play the simulation games in the pilot seat on her 4 hour shift, as she had taken her turn so many times in the past year. Always before, when the launch sequence got to that point, there were only simulated sounds and instrument readings; they were the same now except that the thunder and shaking was for real this time, no doubt about it as she was pressed down into the acceleration couch beyond any simulation. And so she knew that although the game would be the same as those she had played in this very seat so many times before, this time there would be nothingness for her at the end, and glory with her name added to the list of heros engraved in the hall of honor, maybe even be the one to have a statue made in her image as the one who finally achieved full sovereign separation from those above. She would bring honor to those of the Harem of Bullguarde, honor to the Daughters of Landsworth Breeding Man from whom she was traded to Bullguarde Breeding Man and produced children for him before being put on this assignment years ago. To Donna and Landsworth would be the Glory!

 

She would play the game with much practiced expertise, game of dodge and subtrafuge with the KESTS Patrol Spacecraft which was even now unwittingly on its way down, 21,000 miles above her. She was assured of blotting out that patrol craft and its pilot, along with the million or so of current riders of the KESTS at the moment when she detonated her nuke; and if she could dodge the patrolcraft enough by some miracle, she would also sever the KESTS spacerail bridge and down it would fall. And the planet's surface would forever then belong to the Harems and each's Breeding Men, evermore honoring the name of Donna Bullguarde, greatest bombpilot of all. She smiled grimly and clenched the joystick a little tighter, as her mind began the practiced solutions of the equations that paralled those of the guidance computer, she then began to sometimes slip in an unpredictable factor into her trajectory, intending to outwit the piloted patrolship and its computer.

 

John Foursight relaxedly again thumbed his randomizer thruster a bit, getting to the other edge of the KESTS spacerail to get a quicker peek beyond that which it had shadowed moments ago. And he instantly froze a second or two while he observed and mentally digested the blip that he saw headed his way. He knew he was good as toast already, for there was no preventing that nuke from torching all life on or near the KESTS now; but he would be able to save the spacerail itself if his skill held out long enough, if he destroyed the intruder before it could ram its nuke into the KESTS bridge structure. All his predecessors had made that sacrifice and had saved the KESTS itself thereby; now his number was up to do it too, his bad luck to draw this patrol shift. He quickly analyzed the probable trajectories and his mental calculations paralleled his patrol spacecraft's computer guidance system, minimizing intercept time to fire his space missile at the upcoming intruder before it could reach the KESTS. John's skill would attempt to gain those two seconds toward intercept of the incoming piloted bombcraft, mere seconds quicker than the calculable intercept to the KESTS, in the game of dodge and subterfuge now desperately ongoing.

 

His thoughts flashed back to the warm hug and kiss of his wife 2 years ago, just before she launched in her patrol craft on an also unlucky numbered mission, just as this one has now become. His grief at her loss required many reminders of why this all was happening, and now he again resorted to remembering why this had to be played out to the end.

 

The KESTS spacerail bridge had been built from the ground up to GEOrbit to save civilization along with the earthsurface ecosystem, a generation ago, first to provide clean electric power and total recycling facilities in GEO, then expanded to move huge amounts of people and their belongings into space in a hurry. Nature had become overburdened by the accumulation of toxic wastes of mankind's civilization, waste material she had no way to recycle herself, and the ecosystem was dying, the weight of mankind's civilization had become much too great to sustain by nature, and mankind was forced to either die off or to take responsibility for its needs for total recycling of its waste products, its needs for abundant clean electrical power, and room to expand its population up where sunlight was always abundant, and the responsibility to restore the earth's ecosystem back to long term health. 


The first small crossection KESTS was built and emplaced, infilling an orbital Transfer Trajectory between the equatorial ground and around the Earth to peak at stationary earth orbit, moving at the same angular velocity as the earth surface, so payload left by the KESTS would stay in space, already with orbital velocity. The KESTS structure was like a giant perimeter electric motor, driven by electrical power put in where it attached to the ground, and it enclosed a hard vacuum throughout its internal maglev track system, the motor's armature mass stream traveling faster that orbital transfer velocity just enough to provide the outward centrifugal force component to balance the weight of the motors earth-motionless stator with its live loads. The small initial KESTS was used to lift materials to build onto itself until it was big enough to carry a million people a day between the ground to GEO; the electric power needed to energize this enormous transportation system came from one of the first Solar Satellite Power Stations the KESTS had enabled to be built in GEO, its solar-derived electrical energy cleanly beamed down to rectennas located near the KESTS ground terminal armature mass stream electromagnetic accelerators located within the tunnel through the Andes in Ecuador. 


From GEO spaceports, expansion of mankind to go to the lunar surface for raw construction materials was easy, since GEO already was 91% up out of Earth's great gravitational well. So Earthsurface-like interior space habitats were robotically built from raw materials brought from the Moon, constructed at a rate adequate to provide new fine living space for one million people immigrating each day for 20 years, so as to enable civilization to prosper anew on space resources while the planetary ecosystem was to be lovingly nursed back to balanced health, saving as many species as possible from the moment the decision was made to go this route, to create a planet-wide National Park.

 

But toward the end of the upward movement of the population, a few tough renegade men began to kidnap women before they could get to the KESTS ground terminal, and created huge harems of them, and formed the Sovereign Nation of Earthsurface. And there became a war zone that eventually balanced into a boundary to define limits to where the Clarke Belt Nation people could travel to around the KESTS earth terminal, in their conversion work to restore the land to the ideal ecosystem National Park condition, a mere 100 miles radius around the Ecuadorian terminal of the KESTS. 


But the vast majority of the nearly vacated planetary earthsurface had been taken over by the Sovereign World guerillas, rejoicing in their windfall possession of a world full of vacated cities and industries, now wealthy beyond their wildest dreams through their piracy. All they had to do now was to sever the KESTS bridge, and the planet would be forever theirs, to pillage and squander as they always had done before the plan to move to the Clarke Belt was approved by the majority of mankind, thinking to save their planet and to save their civilization, so sad to leave their homelands, all of them. But now ownership of abandoned property was theirs, these militant Sovereign Earthsurfacers, so clever. And the game of Destroy/Protect KESTS evolved to that of the present moment; now it was up to John and his lone patrol craft to once more protect the bridge between the 12 billion person Clarke Belt Nation and the home planet it motionlessly ringed 22,300 miles above the equator....

 

Donna wished that she had a launchable nuke, but there were only a relatively few of the great reaction engine powered launchcraft left over from before KESTS was built, and they had not been intended to be bombers. So she had to contend with the warhead being lashed onboard in the cargo bay, requiring her spacecraft's impact with the KESTS spacerail bridge before detonating it, to bring down the KESTS. Short of that goal if unreachable, she would detonate it anyway, frying the enemy craft, herself, and all life on the relatively unprotected KESTS, usually about a million people traveling on it at any given time. Hers was the glory of the moment, and in only a few minutes she would know just how big a winner she was.

 

Donna faked a quick move from around the shadow side of the KESTS relative the patrol craft, then quickly reversed at the last instant, hoping that would lure the patrol craft to fire its missile but not risk the missile to hit the KESTS.

 

John took the bait and fired his space missile at the upcoming bombship, but the intruder uncannily dodged back behind the KESTS structure at the last instant; John had missed his chance. Dismayed only for an instant, he too faked a move around the KESTS, reversed and surprised the upcoming spacecraft. In remembrance of his fallen wife he hit the thrusters full blast and rammed the intruding spacecraft in its cargo bay area, hoping to damage the nuke's firing mechanism before it could be detonated.

 

Donna elatedly reached for the bomb detonation switch just as she was about to contact the KESTS bridge, but was slammed to the side from an impact from something. A second slam indicated she had collided with the KESTS; she then hit the detonation switch but nothing happened. Checking the viewfinders, she found that her craft was bent around the spacerail bridge, tangled with the patrol ship's wreckage. She closed her helmet's faceplate to conserve air, and began to crawl back to the cargo chamber to inspect the nuke there, and set it off manually if possible. She was illuminated by the glare of the headlight of a spacetrain which had stopped just short of the wrecked spacecraft tangled around its maglev track structure as she clambered in her spacesuit toward the cargo bay door area. The light also then showed the figure of another spacesuited figure as it exited from that cargo bay. John had managed to disarm the nuke, and was surprised to be accosted by the attacking pilot who began a free-fall wrestling fist fight right there with him, kicking at him until passing out from lack of air in the spacesuit. He dragged the limp figure from the tangled wreckage, and held it by one arm while he jumped to the spacetrain's airlock door, and soon they were inside, surrounded by a crowd of astonished passengers; opening the faceplate of the attacker, John found the unconscious beautiful face of Donna, former Haremmate of Bullguarde of the Sovereign Nation of Earthsurface.


Ch.2 From Technician's Viewpoint Enroute

 

John Foursight stood up in the spacerail spacecraft, having noted that the person in the invader's spacesuit was unconscious but breathing, just as General Beasely strode over to the pair. John managed a salute despite his spacesuit, and the General returned the salute. "Report!" barked the officer. "Airman Foursight, sir; this unconscious person here is someone from the pirate earthsurface spacecraft which attacked the KESTS but fortunately was not quite able to nuke us all. It appears to be a woman, and the pilot's maneuvers suggest a highly intelligent, dedicated and clever soldier."

 

General Beasely, who was traveling up the KESTS to GEO after completing a tour of duty as commander of the defensive guard of the 600 mile perimeter around earthsurface KESTS terminal in Ecuador, rapidly evaluated the situation, requested assistance from several Marines also on that spacetrain railcar, and the slowly reviving figure in the spacesuit was placed in a spare acceleration couch, and safely strapped there.

 

Donna, former Haremmate of Bullguarde, and (almost) the greatest bombpilot of all, awoke to find herself in some vehicle, but not her flying bomb spacecraft, however. She had to get to it and trigger the nuke, and do it now! But she was only able to sit up, strapped into a cushiony couch, and there were other people in couches near her, in ordinary clothes. KESTS Spacetrain riders; they were alive, not fried; she had failed in her glorious mission. Well, there were more like her far below, even now playing simulation games on converted ground launch vehicles, the glory would be to one of them. The hated KESTS to GEO would be brought down, and then the Breeding Men and their Harems of earthsurface would own all of Earth forevermore. Meanwhile, maybe she could dispose of the KESTS from up here; she was an undefeatable woman.

 

Asperger Passenger (AP) stiffly pried himself out of the deceleration activated couch, where he had been sunken into so quickly as the spacetrain had suddenly decelerated from the 4,000 mph it had been sliding at along the upper maglev rail on the KESTS prior to the detection of the impact ahead of them. He understood the mechanisms of what had happened better than most people, but the people events around him were always baffling, and the two spacesuited figures which had come through the disembarkation airlock in full view of his couch were just more mystery, why do people do all these things? Some of the other passengers were now also squeezing up out of their floatation couches, some excitedly babbling to their partners. He had made the 12 hour trip along the 45,000 mile half-perimeter between the Earth surface and the Clarke Belt Habitat Ring many times, and it was certain that they were nowhere near the Clarke belt disembarkation site yet. The human drama playing out in front of him would be comprehensible later to him, but for now it was all like seeing a three ring circus as a toddler would, much people-action without much meaning.

 

However, nearby was a portal to the world he knew so well, as one of the maintenance operators of the spacerail transportation system. Along with all the entertainment channels available to passengers on the spacetrain, there were KESTS maintenance channels, and into one of these he plugged his hologram awareness interface, and into the identity of the KESTS his self-awareness went.

 

The life sized dynamic hologram that interlaced with all parts of the KESTS elliptical rail structure, was livid with position servo information for restoring homeostasis after the collision by the two spacecraft 500 km above the earth's equator. All but one of the spacetrain rails were obstructed by the crash site, so all the rail cars were halted on those tracks on the downward side of the KESTS. The living hologram told its ongoing real-time story in sight and sound to the earth terminal, where already the velocity vectors of the outgoing armature segments were compensating for the unexpected collision impulse and added live load of the weight of the spacecraft far above the ground. The great armature mass stream thrusters high in space on the KESTS also adjusted their input energy to the downward mass streams, as they input their solar powered thrust to the armature mass streams while also urging the orbital-transfer-trajectory shaped Kests to precess around once each 24 hours to match the rotation of the planet to which it was attached far below.

 

The hologram resonated at the speed of light all around the KESTS, interacting with every part of the transportation system, and brought the operators of the KESTS into full arousal at their stations located in the Clarke Belt Habitat Ring. The operators were enmeshed into the KESTS matrix as if their very bodies included images of each particular part of the KESTS. The operators dedicated to the area where the crash site was, gave out message patterns for equal and opposite unbalanced thrusts from armature mass segments, peaking out at the crash thrust area, dampening out with distance from there. The impacting spacecraft had not only mangled fourteen of the railcar tracks on the outside of the KESTS structure, but also had bent in one of the inner trackways, which carried the armature mass stream segments at nearly three times the velocity of an orbital transfer trajectory. The dent in the trackway was providing a powerful new lateral thrust vector where the mass stream encountered the bump, then upstream an equally strong vector in the opposite direction, forming a twist force on the structure.

 

The nearest repair trolley sped to the scene, enlivened as if inhabited by the operators who actually were far above in the Habitat Ring in Geostationary Orbit. The repair trolley encircled the girth of the KESTS there, stored some energy from the mass stream, then gave a brief contracting squeeze, reforming the inner track back to its original shape.

 

Although he did not have access here to his usual remote manipulator interface, AP felt a bit powerless as he watched as other repair trolleys arrived near the tangled wreckage and halted spacerail trains. Their grapples quickly transferred the bulk of the two mangled spacecraft onto the upside track industrial lift trackways, to rail cars designed to be able to carry full grown whales and their ocean water tanks up to those habitats in GEO which were dedicated to perpetuating the sea world's living systems. The KESTS stator structure was squeezed back into its original shape by the repair trolley contractions, then the damaged maglev trackway sections were unsnapped, and replaced with fresh trackway sections, to restore the high precision tolerances of the trackways. This repair work was not much different from the usual continuous replace and upgrade process that endlessly continued all along the KESTS, ever refreshing the structure's components much as living bone is continually being recycled in the human body. The maintenance-repair trolleys sprang back under the KESTS structure and headed back to their berths, and the spacetrains again began absorbing energy from the high velocity armature mass stream's upward-bound sections, resuming their travel once again, almost back to normal, only an hour behind schedule.

 

Unplugging his holodynamic awareness interface from the railcar's passenger communication patch panel, AP suddenly was back in the real physical world within the spacetrain rail car, alive with people's business. They were now re-accelerating upward along the magnetic levitation sliding trackway, the other passengers now only partially sunken back into the flotation couches, still chattering about this peculiar interruption to their trip. AP wished that the research into bringing the social world of multiply interacting people into understandability, would soon be able to make it as comprehensible to people like him as the KESTS was, those who were unable to immediately comprehend the complex social dynamics of society, like most other people could apparently do without effort.

 

General Beasley and his wife were next to AP, and Mrs. Beasley was angrily demanding that something be done about those irresponsible earthsurface warmongers. No, General Beasley told her, we are not going to drop the viruses to exterminate all remaining human life on the planet, so that the restoration of the Earth's ecosystem could get back on schedule. "We are not inhumane, we must find a way to balance the needs of everyone concerned". And yes, it must be done quickly, this latest attack by the earth pirate people nearly had destroyed all that mankind's civilization had striven for these many centuries.

 

AP listened to Gen. & Mrs. Beasley with confusion, glassy-eyed though quickly glancing here and there. This world of violent-thinking people was incomprehensible, why weren't all people everywhere working together in friendship to the goals they all had in common? Why waste effort and precious resources bashing at each other? He longed to return to the KESTS' hologram reality world, where the only intention was the cheery flow of energies of myriad kinds, places and beings, in the pursuit of homeostasis within an ever-changing larger entity, the KESTS to GEO Habitat Ring.



Ch.3 From the councilman's viewpoint

 

B'wana Tregorre uneasily studied the ancient history leading up to the building of Clarke Belt Nation and the KESTS spacerail system that made it possible, the umbillical cord with Earthsurface. To get into the spirit of the events, he decorated his cubical with momentos from that past, his favorite was the one with the saying to the aspiring ecologist " When you are up to your crotch in alligators, it is hard to remember you came to save the swamp.' So appropriate now as back then 50 years ago, it was about those who struggle to save civilization and earthlife when having to get its denizens to be the ones to build and survive happily in the result, when all those critters seem to want to do is to jostle around for a bigger hunk of whatever unfortunate was becoming the meal of the moment... often targeted was those who struggled to save the future of them all. The Confederacy of Clarke Belt Cities, all 1,500,000 of them ringing the planet in the Clarke belt synchronous orbit above earth's equator, would be voting on an extremely serious matter: the abandonment of their committment to restore the earth's surface ecosystem back to an enduring genetically diverse balance, as part of the international decision to build the Clarke Belt Cities, even to development of the KESTS. Then, as now, there was the problem of coping with, then integrating with, those who thrived on aggressive powerful cunning to usurp the maximum for their ends... the alligators, sharks, of the human world. The Sovereign Nation of Earthsurface was the latest bunch of alligators, no more, no less.

 

In the late 1990's, when the possibility of restoring Mother Earth's ecosystem while greatly expanding human civilization became appearant, the odds against getting it to actually happen seemed impossible. esentially everyone saw the concept as a ripoff of their homelands, a forced exodus from the surface of their home world to go into concentration camps life inside machines in the sky; corporations saw it as unable to make a profit in their management time frame, and would make their existing space transportation technologies mere history, sending their hopes for fame and fortune into ruin. Those who would benefit by the concept, the people of the future and the species of the earth's balanced ecosystem to be, could not vote on its implementation. So the concept of a ring of habitats in GEO, connected by a massive transportation system bridging the ground and that ring of space cities, had to be developed out of sight of the reigning overseers of technology; by the end of the '90's, covert spy technology was so insideous and pervasive that the lone inventors could not invent anything without the monitors and burglars becoming aware of it even as it developed in the inventor's garage; by the time the inventor could try to patent it, impressive engineering documents were in place to "prove " that some corporation had developed it first and had it applied for patent days before, and the inventors gradually starved due to failure to get reward for thier creative work. Where would they find the many creative minds to do the vastly diverse design of a new transportation system, and of building self-sustaining cities in near space to make good life for 15 billion people? Engineering employees of corporations all were sworn to give over any invention of theirs done on or off the job to their employer as a pre-condition of employment, so none of them could be used to create such a project. Yet the technology needed to be a demonstrable real possibility, somehow, by the time civilization woke up to the fact that it had almost eaten itself out of house and home and had trashed out what remained, and there was clearly nothing but ruin laying before them. Sadly, the corporate managers knew the truth that it was much cheaper to suppress competitive technologies than to improve their own. And the researchers themselves learned early in their careers that one does not get so creative that one's work strays far beyond the boundaries of the established set of concepts, if one hopes to not be rejected by the staid peer review process.

 

Sure, they could fight over the scraps of what was left of the planet, but by then little would remain to sustain the winners, and the chains of long term ecosystem balance would have been long broken in many places by then. Before then, a way out had to be secretely created and presentable to a dazed and panic-stricken civilization which had lost the first utterly essential resource, and reality had to be faced. So how did the proverbial ecologist back then get the alligators to stand up and rebuld the swamp, instead of having the ecologist for lunch and letting tomorrow take care of itself? Recorded history did not have much to say about how the success happened despite the covert suppression of those who naively first publically proclaimed the concept in the late 1980's, thinking an earth full of intelligent people would rally to the opportunity to save their heritage's future and their planet's sustainable ecosystem upon which life depended. Instead, those creative but naively optomistic few found a planet full of powerful, aggressive TV-addicted people committed to maintaining the status quo that supported their power, ignoring the impossibility of doing so for much longer; those powerful people merely believed that forcing population growth to zero would solve the problem. B'Wanna wondered if those authoritarian people also believed that if they ran their automobiles at a constant speed they would never run out of gas... sure, it would save gas, but eventually the tank would run dry anyway. They might even have believed that burying their garbage and trash would make it not haunt the future eventually. Up here in a Clarke Belt City of 8,000 people, every bit of living processes was integrated into recycling processes, and what little that did became too intractable to continue to be recycled economically, went outside to be added as radiation shielding mass to the non-rotating outer hull of each city. Many of the recycling technologies used up here would work down there on the surface, although many recycling processes depended upon the immediate wide availability of hard vacuum processing in a wide range of gravities ranging from zero to 1.1 g's, and a sun that shone 24 hours a day if not shaded, seven times as much solar power than the average solar influx on an equal area on the ground. But still, there were a lot of technologies developed for Clark Belt Nation that could have helped the technologically-generated trash accumulation down there, and delayed the inevitable for a generation longer, perhaps.

 

Focusing his thoughts back on the situation here and now, he had to postulate that there was a solution to the mess.


Ch.4 From Donna Bulgarde, the attacking pilot's viewpoint

 

At the GEO Clarke Belt Habitat Ring embarcation wheel, there were no detention quarters, as there was no reason for people to commit crime there in the Ring. So Donna found herself in a quarantine room intended for use in case of need for bacteriological outbreak isolation wards, but though there was room there for 4,000 people at a time, only she and a few Marines were occupants. She had pleasant quarters, good food, and freedom to go wherever she chose, within the huge isolation facilities. The Marines apologised to her, saying they could not understand her kind and so were attempting to be careful. Donna could not understand them either, what was wrong with them, if someone on earthsurface were to have done what she did, they would have soon been painfully killed in public view. These people were weird. Yet they were competent; the pilot who had outwitted her clearly was an expert and courageous. But somewhere there was a cork in this huge spacehome and she would find it and pull it out, let all the air out, and so would become rid of these hated creatures of the GEO Ring.

 

Many of the passengers who had their trip from ground to the GEO Habitat Ring delayed for the two hours while the patrol ship vs bombship fracas was going on, looked to the news broadcasts when they got home, to find out more of what had been going on.

 

There were holoimages of the pilot of the attacking spacecraft, first ever captured: Donna Bulguarde was her name; a very attractive woman but past childbearing age. She was being held in the large quarantine facility at the KESTS embarkation wheel. Was she being held there because they feared she was harboring some disease of the body, or just of the mind? Anyone who would strive to destroy the KESTS, so key to mankind's survival and that of the Earth's ecosystem's restoration, surely had some disease, at least of the mind, so was the consensus. So with fascination they watched this strange creature, a human who looked so much like themselves, but apparently was a mad wild animal inside yet with high intelligence and expert piloting skills. She was prowling the embarkation's quarantine facility, which was built with large numbers of families in mind who were enroute from the ground to their new homes in the GEO Clarke Belt Habitat Ring of space settlements.

 

Having not found an immediate cork to pull to let the air out of the habitat ring yet, Donna prowled to see what could be found as a weapon to fulfill her mission to destroy the KESTS, maybe even the GEO Habitat Ring too, what a hero she would be to those on the ground! For, she knew she was an undefeatable woman, and she was already in the domain of the hated arrogant ones.

 

Donna found a room with information access available. Inside were booths to enable new settlers to learn all that was needed to become a fully functioning competant member of the GEO Clarke Belt Habitat Ring. From versions for toddlers to adults, the instructions were geared to the age, experience goals and capabilities of the person. Donna took a seat, and suddenly the holoviewer made her aware of the entire habitat ring, the KESTS in all its fine detail moment by moment, even the view of the defended perimeter around the earthsurface terminal in Ecuador. Setting aside a moment her goal of finding a quick way to destroy all that, she allowed her curiosity to explore some of this dazzling array of colorful happenings. The holofield quickly assessed Donna's ability level and goals in life, to guide her in her quest for knowledge. In the speed of a dream, she learned the history of how the earth surface became depleted of resource after resource, the environment became terminally polluted by civilization's unrecyclable byproducts; the population rose up against the authoritarians that were enforcing the status quo for the benefit of the rich and powerful, and demanded they become responsible for humanity and civilization. The vote was made, the world population chose to move to temporary quarters built in GEO, while the earthsurface was restored to healthful long term balance, much as it was before civilization began to dribble its unrecyclable byproduct wastes all over the planet. There were two ways to lift so many people to space in such a short time: anchored earth tethers and KESTS. Both types went under emergency R&D and into construction, emplaced small at first, then used to build up themselves to working capacities. The anchored earth tether type space elevator was operational first; but when the KESTS became operational it was far more economical and its capacity much larger, and so it did most of the work. She skipped the details of how they built the main Clarke Belt habitat structures out of lunar raw materials, went to the part when the founders of the Earth Sovereign Nations (called "pirates" up here, she noted) halted the project, claiming themselves owners of all the abandoned property on Earth, and preventing the restoration of the ecosystem thereby.

 

The "pirates" as they called them up here, were made up of a surprisingly large number of the people who had been rich and powerful in the pre-KESTS regimes; corporate, governmental and militarily powerful, those who were unwilling to trade their elite status on the ground for being on a somewhat leveled playing field up in the GEO Habitat Ring cities. They had plotted the takeover and executed it perfectly, now were in possession of a worldfull of resources and military weapons, and everything else on the ground. Their military component drove the weak defense of the KESTS to a balance of about a hundred mile radius of the Ecuadorian KESTS ground terminal. And the "pirates" celebrated their wealth beyond anything they had before. Beyond that, little was known of what transpired after that on the ground, other than the attacks by the bombships periodically from the earth, And new data: the bombships were being piloted by women who were past childbearing age, no longer useful to the masters of the ground... Donna realized with surprise that she was already integrated into the knowledge base. A bit worried, she inquired about herself as now existed in the knowledge base for all to see. She saw herself in the quarantine facility, seated in an information access terminal, she also could see her self inside and out, her subvocal thoughts since arriving here including her determined search for a "cork" to be pulled to let the air out. There was no recrimination, no penalty threatened, the terminal merely described what was. She was a powerful woman, a great bombpilot, an undefeatable saboteur and soldier, and yet here she was, naked beyond any nakedness she had ever imagined possible, for all to observe, even herself.

 

She disconnected from the information terminal, got up and pondered all this a moment. She realized even now every thought subvocalized was being watched by whomever. And they had not destroyed her on the spot. Why not? Were they toying with her, like a cat with a mouse before dinner?

 

No mouse was she, no cat's dinner was she, she determined, and quickly went back to the information interface, merged into it again. She looked for the weapons, the jaws of destruction set to chomp down on her at any time. There were the few Marines lounging in their quarters here in the quarantine facility, but that was the whole extent she could see immediately. Were they such fools? Did they not understand what she had attempted to do as a bombpilot, almost succeeded in destroying their precious link to the ground forever? So she thought the question of the infoholoterminal, "why are they not destroying me? What power stays their hand?" The answer was that they did not destroy anybody, because everyone was precious. There was never an intent to harm her. They just did not know what to do with her. But she was a sensation in the news, and billions were fascinated with her this very instant. Some appreciated her physical beauty, others appreciated her single-minded sense of duty and great competence. Most were just curious what the earth pirate people were like, and here was the first one ever to be among them. Welcome! they said to her, billions of people at once, Welcome to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness with us!


Ch.5 From John Foursight, the defensive pilot's viewpoint

 

John Foursight, stands at his new condominium's lower story window looking out at the surface of the water that reaches to about a foot below his doorstep, a small artificial (as everything here in the space habitats is man-made) lake. Across the lake, a causeway, and another lake, about 300 feet away there are other condos like this one, as on a hillside, higher ones further away, rising up inside the wheel-curving land setting. John had purchased this new place with the bonus he received for his success in saving the KESTS from the attack. He was mainly amazed that he was still alive, had even survived unhurt through it all, the first such pilot who had lived through an attack, but sure, he would accept the bonus. He had always wanted one of these homes on the lake, a pensive place to look upon while relaxing, and it even has a small rowboat as part of the home, and lake trout for some fishing and good old fashioned eating.

 

He pondered about the urge of some people to do violence, and why do they do that. What made those earthsurface pirates tick? Things were being learned about that by watching the captured pilot of the attacking bombship, Donna Bullguarde, yet there was more to be considered. John had some insight from his own Grandson, who had been bragging about his Grandpa's heroics and was acting out the space battle with his classmates, and they all were getting much too fascinated by the violence aspect of it.

 

There was an old phrase, "boys will be boys", yet surely it was not something that had to be erased in each child if there were to be harmony among all peoples in the struggle to survive and for all to thrive? Life on the Space Orbital Habitat Ring was totally dependent on everybody pulling together, it was far too risky for rivalry and other forms of petty sabotage to be allowable; they were all in the same "boat". Would merely avoiding attaching such attentive glamor to heroics, such as people considered his fortunately survived efforts to do his job defending the KESTS, would that prevent some bullie's urges for violence spectaculars? John would much rather have a less dangerous job to do. Drawing the short straw would sooner or later happen to him again as a patrol pilot, and would he luck out a second time? Not likely.

 

Preventing the problem at its source seemed a worthy thought to ponder as he let his eyes rest upon the waters, rippling in the artificial moonlight on this night part of the cycle inside the six miles around habitat wheel. Water's rippling, almost magical flow always fascinated him; he wondered if it was because he was born in a hottub in Malibu, back in the days when the Human Potential Movement was at its peak, and when it was still thought that love, care, and total honesty even during birthing would make for better people as a result.

 

There were only four pairs of these small 80 ft by 700 ft lakes on each space habitat of 10,000 people each. The lakes were not just for meditative contemplation as he was now doing, nor just for extensions of the fish farms in the agricultural areas, decor and environmental purposes, but, as most things on space habitats, they served multiple purposes. The four pairs of lakes were each 90 degrees apart on the great habitat wheel, and were interconnected by pipes and pumps, and the water levels were automatically adjusted within opposite sets to compensate for shifting average loads within the space habitat, as people and materials moved about on their busy day. Without this weight compensation, there could be some wobble in the space colony, off-center rotation. Probably not enough for the rotating colony to scrape against the outer non-rotating passive radiation shielding shell, however, but rotational balance was in line with the myriad other homeostasis mechanisms in the living space habitat, a symbiosis of people, agriculture, and machines.

 

The homeostasis mechanisms were automatic reflexes to move toward restoration of balance in all things, as life and environmental processes proceeded through their energetic daily processes, ever busy, busy yet not mindful of all other processes ongoing. John relaxed into the visual comfort of the ripples on the lake, reflecting the lights from the many condominiums on each side of the lake, knowing that the water was also even now providing balance for all of them.


Ch.6 From the KESTS holodyne's viewpoint

 

The KESTS holodyne sang to herself a million songs all in counterpoint at the same time, telling of peace and harmony and thriving and the joy of life of herself and the humans with their many possessions of living and material natures. Stories of the flow of armature mass streams in various counterrotating paths around the elliptical maglev tracks on the underside of the KESTS stator; songs of the armature accelerators deep within the Andes in Ecuador, they joyously singing in concert with the rectennas bringing in the electrical power beamed down from GEO SSPS. The deep bass voices of the Solar Powered Mass Stream Thrusters on the eastward side of the KESTS sang of their downward thrust on the earthward-headed armature mass streams, vectors just right for balancing their weight with the eastward pull on the stator structure and the desired direct kinetic energy input desired by the overall system.

 

Copyright © 2006 James E. D. Cline