Soap Bubble

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(Written by Valles, posted 10 December 2006)

There's no other ship in the Solar System like Moondance.

I say this not out of pride of ownership but as a simple fact. For one thing, I'm fairly sure it's the only one of any size that was handbuilt from scratch rather than kludged from something more mundane.

It started, for me, when I was attending a science fiction convention. Yes, that one.

Why, yes. I was. Word of advice: never get drunk with fen. You never know what you'll end up regretting once you're sober.

Actually, that was the first and last time I ever drank at all.

It has its ups and downs. It's a lot easier to feel good about myself - which's no small thing, considering how much of a problem I had with depression - but I attract more attention than I used to and spend three days a month almost bedridden, like clockwork.

Being short is a pain in the ass, though.

About ten inches.

I had the hair before, actually, though I was taller and it's grown a bit since then. I used to bind it off at about mid-thigh, rather than just past my knees.

It took a few months, but wasn't painful at all, actually. I'd always been willing to admit that guys could be, mmm, interesting, but the mechanics of taking that anywhere when I was one myself bothered me.

That does not go there, thank you.

I'm not answering that. Stacy's life is already more than complicated enough, thank you very much.

No, I do not care to elaborate.

Thank you.

Look, I'll be the first to admit that quarantining us was the smart and responsible thing to do. None of us had a significant problem with that. But treating us like convicted child molesters or mass murderers was a bit fucking much! Damn straight we ran.

It was the scariest three months of my life.

See, even leaving aside the whole 'hunted by the Danelaw' aspect, we had no more clue what to make of handwavium than anyone else did. It could violate the laws of physics and biology, it could grow and breed, there were times when it'd seem to make an independant decision, like it really did have a mind of its own...

And we had no clue what it wanted.

I was asleep that shift; you and your readers already know as much about it as I do.

Ah, yes, the ship. Sit back, mister, I love to talk about it.

The first thing about it is that I always intended it to be as big as it is now. But, I knew I could never afford something that size, either in time or materials. So, I figured out my design - there was and is a lot of information about homemade geodesics on the web, particularly for the Burning Man festival - and built the parts of it that are now the north and south poles out from the very center until they were each just a little too low under the peak for me to stand up straight.

Then I got in touch with a bunch of people and told them what I was doing, and they helped me flip one over and set the other on top of it. Fixed them together, added a perimeter ring, then sealed it off.

I added landing gear, then the engine from Stace's car - she was one of the crazy ones that tried that at the very beginning - as a prime mover, some basic instruments, and the very minimum of living arrangements, and we had our very own flying saucer.

Because it was cool.

More seriously, we'd noticed even that early that a ship's mass and its maximum speed were related as or more closely than how much power it had.

Yes, mass. And a giant tent made out of copper piping, tinfoil, and something near-enough to varnish is a lot lighter than even a small car - no matter how much more free space it has inside.

Dude, one of the guys we knew forgot to replace the broken window he'd covered using a trash bag. Structural integrity didn't worry me.

Yeah, that was more of a leap of faith than's usually my style, but by that point... I'd started to trust the 'wavium. Not its judgement or such, but its intentions.

Of course I gave it a real hull eventually. And a real skeleton and a real life-support system, too. Trust isn't the same as blind trust.

Scalping NASA?! Look, I wanted the same wage as the rest of their hourly contractors. They were the ones who insisted on the danger pay.

No, no, no. Whoever told you that was a fucking liar. I left because they tried to fucking arrest me. I was studying for the damned license, I was damned well playing the game.

No, I don't blame anyone at NASA for that disaster. At the time I didn't think any of them knew about it, and once I found out differently, I knew that they'd found out too late to do more than protest.

I can't really take credit for the spandex space suit. I got the idea from something that I'd read about how conventional types held the human body in with an envelope of air, and how it should be possible to accomplish the same task with an envelope of fabric.

So I bought a wet suit and 'waved it, and asked NASA to borrow one of their vaccum chambers to test it safe-like.

Explosive decompression is a myth, actually, and anyway the thing worked perfectly.

Nowadays I've got the Moondance up to her full size and I'm running interplanetary cargoes. It takes a while, but I have a lot of time to read and not too many people bothering me, and I'm living with the best girlfriend on the planet.

You, too. And, if you or your bosses need anything else for that story, get in touch, hey? 'Night!

Ah, peace.

Can I help you?


My own, actually.

Well, for starters, stop staring at my boobs. Yes, they really are that huge. No, you can't feel.

Thanks. Now go away, please.