Whistling Part 1
(By Warringer with a pair of 'mails' by Rob Kelk and BlackAeronaut)
September 3rd, 2008
I never thought that I'd ever write something of a diary before now, but then again I think that I need to write this down.
About a year ago this insanity started...
Handwavium devices from the Worldcon hit the news, Usenet and forums. And that after Katz Schrödinger hit space with his refit little boat, making it into space...
Dozens of people went into space after him and there was more then one panic, be it the Professor in Paris or Copenhagen, or That Con over in the States.
A year since I started to talk with a couple of friends online.
We talked and brainstormed via IRC and eventually came to a realization.
Everywhere geeks and nerds like us were messing with Handwavium and went into space.
We're going to do the same.
A personal meeting is in order. I suggested a small camping area in Ostfriesland because my parents got a camping trailer there.
September 21st, 2008
We had our first meeting in real life today. Only three of them came through.
Thorsten, who goes by Bully and is an electronic engineer in real life, Alexander, aka Mehandor and is a mechanic, and to my surprise the only female in our little group, Danni, aka Thora who works for EADS/Astrium of all places as aerospace engineer.
We're going to have a fun couple of days, especially since Thorsten somehow managed to get himself some Handwavium. He refuses to share his source through.
September 24th, 2008
I think we have found a way to realize this and to pay for it. Okay sure we are going to keep shut about the whole thing, but were going to do this. Neither of us is a political person and none of us wants to get involved into the politics that begin to grow in space.
I got the idea when I read that the ISS once again needed to change orbit and after Alex reminded me of the manga 'Planetes'. Sure we may all be Rhodanites, but we do have other interests in the fandom.
So, we are going to play cleanup crew and gather up orbital debris. Nice, boring and out of the way.
And we all like the Toy Box as a ship design.
Still need to find out how to do this.
December 12th, 2008
Once again we talked about this. We're going to get ourselves some out of the way place to build out Toy Box.
I managed to find an old wharf up at the coast, close to Norden. I think we can rent it for some time. We do need to lay low through, like just about everyone...
January 6th, 2009
Here we are at the wharf I found for us. Nicely large, she should fit the Toy Box when she's completed. Considering that we are going to base her around a couple of ISO containers to make building her easier, it should be possible to get this done in about a year or so.
January 22nd, 2009
We got ourselves a couple of containers today. The stuff you can get on Ebay...
Six large 45 feet containers, four 40 feet containers, nine 20 feet containers and two 20 feet tank containers.
The 45 feet containers are going to be our cargo bay, with the 40s the backbone of the Toy Box with life support, a hangar for two small dinghies, and the living quarters. Six of the 20s are going to be the front part with C&C and the main living areas, the last three are going to play 'engineering' in the back of the ship. The two tanks will be just that. Tanks for water to use as reaction mass for the three fusion engines we plan to use.
The rest to get the shape of the ship is going to be plywood, sheet steel and glass fiber. We really need to get down to make some Whipple shields through, if we plan to get into debris clouds. We're not sure if the 'wavium is going to be able to get us armored enough.
We're going to need to build a proof of concept for the engines now...
March 21st, 2009
Oh my god...
It was glorious!
We managed to get the first proof of concept fusion engine to work!
A 'waved home build Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor with an expansion nuzzle...
Danni think that we get at least Specific Impulse of more then one thousand out of that little engine...
But without a dedicated test area no idea how much it really got.
We called it Philo MKI and will build another one of those to put into our parasites. The bigger ones for the Toy Box are going to be named Philo MKII.
May 1st, 2009
So much for Labor Day...
We're all working on something or another.
Thorsten is trying to get that old Radar system working he managed to find on ebay. Alex is testing the weldings on the hydraulics of our new cargo bay and Danni is working on the third main engine.
And I'm the only one left to handle glass fiber and a 'wavium-epoxy mix. Great going there...
I wonder how the Internet reception up there is. I need to take a look at Naedial once in a while after all...
May 10th, 2009
Getting that fiberglass mold together was a pain... Just like mixing the 'wavium and the epoxy. I think I managed to swallow some...
At least it now looks about right. A few coats of paint and we can mount it over the outer whipple shield layer.
May 26th, 2009
I was out for three days and what happens? I go wogon...
The whole nine yards at that. Wings, fur, tail... To top it off, I think did pretty much go Naedial...
Not going to be able to get out before dark anymore. There goes getting drunk in a pub before launch...
Looks like I swallowed enough 'vawium when I worked on the fiberglass...
June 10th, 2009
I have decided...
To do a name change. With this biomod I'm not my old self anymore.
Naedial Warringer does have a nice ring to it through.
August 3rd, 2009
And another one bites the dust.
We're nearly done with the Box and all that was still needed was a computer system. Thorsten and Danni cobbled some networked computer together out of a couple of 'waved Atom boards with a 'waved quad core machine as central computer.
Or course there were a few problems...
Namely an AI awakening in the system.
So how are we going to deal with an AI who believes that its Fee Carmichael, the commander of the 'original' Toy Box? And who wants to get a smoke?
At least she's going to be a valuable assets once were upstairs.
August 15th, 2009
We hit a little problem, we're nearly out of money and Fee reminded us that we still need space suits up there.
For the guys there is not that much of a problem, but for me it is. Nothing we can whip up at the moment is going to fit me...
And to top it off the air in the Toy Box begins to faintly smell like tobacco smoke. We need to change the filters.
August 30th, 2009
Well, Danni had a surprise for me. She managed to make me a space suit. Out of a wet suit with some modifications on it.
I have to say that it fits surprisingly well, considering that I have problems with most clothes because of my wings.
I think I may start to wear it 24/7 as its the only piece of clothing that really fits me.
Changing the filters did not work on the tobacco smell. Perhaps our first quirk on the Toy Box ?
September 21st, 2009
One year ago we first came together and planned this. But now we need to be off.
Somehow someone got the LKA Niedersachsen interested in out little wharf. And they in turn told the BKA...
Now we got a couple of hundred cops outside, three helos in the air above us and some ships out on the sea.
We need to make a break for it now. A month ahead of schedule... At least our tanks are filled to the brim...
"Ouch," the dusky voice of Naedial echoed through the cockpit of the Toy Box as she squeezed her two meters through the rather small airlock, hitting her head and wings along the way. "I can't wait until we hit orbit."
Behind her Danni chuckled lightly, while the speakers in the cockpit echoed the snort that came from Fee, the resident AI of the Toy Box.
"After five month you should have gotten used to that..."
Naedial directed a glare at the next screen that displayed the amused face of the afro-American AI, before sitting down on the pilots seat, a customized seat that took care of her rather impressive wings and the thick tail she had gotten in that little Handwavium accident, where she had swallowed some of the stuff that had been fed images and pieces of armor and a good amount of composite materials.
"I will be all right as soon as we're in space," she grumbled and looked out of the window and down to where Thorsten put last minutes stuff into a 20 feet container for Alex to load into the Box's cargo bay. It was not much, considering that they had wanted to plan their launch a bit more careful over the next few weeks. Now with the police all around them, that was a problem.
Something vibrated in the biomodded wolf-dragon (at least that is what she called herself) hybrids hip bag, making her frown lightly. She opened the bag, fishing her 'waved cellphone from it.
"Yes?" she asked, hearing someone call her old name.
"This is Hauptkommissar Hallmackenrheuter, BKA," the voice on the other hand said and Naedial turned on the speaker of her phone.
"Gets you a good amount of Loriot jokes, doesn't it?" she asked and could literally see the frown on the mans face.
"You should know that you can't get away," Hallmackenrheuter noted. "We have you surrounded. It would be best to come out and end this peacefully. Owning and working with Handwavium is a big offense."
She looked over to Danni who shook her head.
"You offend me. Do you really think that we wouldn't get away with it? Do you know what we build in here?"
There was a short pause on the other end and Naedial mouthed to Fee that the guys should move faster and get in the ship. Fee nodded and Naedial could hear her faintly through the hull of the cockpit.
"Obviously some sort of space ship," was the response." But I doubt that it is ready."
Naedial, Fee and Dani snorted nearly unison.
"You should check your sources," she noted looking outside.
The container was out of sight and she could hear the large cargo bay doors, which used to be a number of 45 foot containers, closing. On the screen a text appeared, telling her that Alex and Thorsten were aboard.
"Sorry, Herr Hauptkommissar, but we got a meeting with someone at L5," she interrupted him as he tried to say something and thumbed a phone button to close the call.
Instantly her face went serious as she concentrated on the controls in front of her. They were designed from the ground up and everyone on the ship could theoretically fly it, but only Naedial had shown any real talent. And even that only after her biomodding accident.
Hands flashed out to the keyboard and the various switches as she went through a now trained startup sequence, with Fee taking care of the various small stuff, eyes on a small multi mode display that showed the various infos about the ship.
There was a triple of low bangs as she large Philo MKII fusion torch engines lit up, venting low amounts of gas into the air, before a low pitched whine and the sudden lack of gravity inside the cockpit showed that the ship was ready to go.
"Whoa," Alex made as he and Thomas suddenly lost the ground under their feet, followed by a loud 'ouch' coming from Thomas as he hit his head against the ceiling of the re-purposed container.
Naedial grinned and turned around to them as the large doors of the wharf opened like it was a clichéd movie.
"Its 350000 kilometers to L5, we got full tanks of water, half a Mars bar, its not dark yet and we forgot the sunglasses," she quipped, getting a snort out of everyone.
"Hit it," Fee finally called out and Naedial pushed the three thrust controllers forward, igniting the three engines.
Three lances of not quite hot plasma began to push the Toy Box forwards, out of the open doors of the wharf and over the rather calm sea.
"Well, they can't stop us now," Danni noted with a grin and reached out to start the music track she had chosen for this moment.
"Good thing we're not the bad guys, or they would," Thomas notes.
All speakers on the ship, either internal or external began to play 'Don't stop me now' from Queen as Naedial angled the Toy Box up vertically, past the helicopters that were moving in to intercept them and pushed the thrust controllers all the way forward.
All four of the ships crew were pushed back into their seats as the powerful engines pushed the brick like spaceship forwards to overcome air pressure.
At first slow like any hardtech rocket the ship rose nearly straight upwards, rattling the ship like there was no tomorrow.
Later on a video of the launch of the up to date largest German build fenship popped up on YouTube and a small policeman was send to a small town named Hengasch.
The Toy Box continued to raise through the air, hitting Mach One about two kilometers above ground, just as a pair of Luftwaffe Tornados moved to intercept her.
Going straight upwards allowed the ship to avoid many of the problems other fenships had faced, but it had its own problems as the shaking only got stronger inside the ship, making it look like it was about to fall apart at any moment to the crew.
"Hitting MaxQ," Fee announced about ten kilometers above ground." Looks like we're going to make it."
Like they had trained, Naedial reduced the thrust of the engines after that, so that they only were at about fifty percent power, before letting gravity affect the large space ship, slowly pulling it into a gravity turn, much like hardtech rockets had used to get into a nice orbit.
Much of the rest of the flight followed a similar pattern of hardtech rocketry rules.
"Oh my god..."
Naedial had long since stopped to control the ship, making Fee take over as she and the others stared out of the cockpit windows at the blue-gree-brown marble that was Earth as they finally entered orbit.
There was another loud tripple of bangs as the engines turned off and the ship began to float on its own.
They kept staring out into space and the Earth beneath them for a long while before Alex spoke up.
"Okay, people, sitrep."
The four fen crew of the Toy Box sat around the table in the sole room of the ship that had full gravity, the small kitchen that was build into one of the frontal containers. Okay their beds and the bathroom were under gravity as well, but that was it for the Toy Box. A coffee machine puttered in the background while a coffee can stood between them and each had a mug of coffee in front of them. And various sheets of paper.
"Does not look so good," Fee, who took part over a screen and webcam in one corner of the kitchen. "You can be glad that you started to live aboard two weeks ago..."
The four fen nodded and drank of their coffee.
"What do we have?" Naedial wondered and everyone looked down at their papers. In the last hour they had been busy to put together a list of things they had at all.
"Does not look too good on the food front," Thorsten noted and everyone rolled their eyes.
"Its always about food with you..." Danni noted and got a sigh out of Thorsten.
"I wanted to get us food stuff today," he noted." But since we were interrupted... Not much left. A couple of cans of soup, some pork, vegetables and potatoes. Some sausage and bread. Not enough for more then maybe two days. The positive thing is that we are not going to run out of coffee, snacks or beer for the next three weeks."
"At least we can get drunk..." Naedial noted and they looked at Alexander who shrugged.
"We got most of our tools," he said." We lost one of the Darwins downstairs through. But the rest was already loaded into the big containers."
"At least something," Thorsten said with a nod.
They had bought some tools through Ebay. Most importantly a CNC lathe and a CNC milling machine. A pair of old robot arms had been an impulse purchase. And then they used to have three RepRap Darwin 3D printers, but now they were down to two. Not that much of a problem as all machines were 'waved and they could still build more Dawins.
And Alexander was a toolmaker, so the mechanical work was not going to be any problem.
"We also got some of the materials. At least enough to build ten more Darwins."
Again everyone nodded.
"Anything we missed on the Box?"
"Well, the plumbing is still unfinished," Danni noted.
"Where can we find a plumber up here?"
"So what do we do now?"
They were silent for a few minutes either staring down at their coffee or drinking from it.
"Maybe its the best if we go for L5. Stellvia should be a good place to start after Starbase 1 moved to Mars."
"Aren't we pretty much broke up here?"
September 22nd, 2009
We have docked with Stellvia to get ourselves some more food then what we have. I don't want only coffee, snacks or beer for the next three weeks...
The downside is that we were broke and had to sell one of our Darwins and two 50 liter barrels of beer. Interestingly enough German beer sold for more then the 3D printer.
And we managed to find a plumber. Some guy named Julian Friez. He did some really good work.
Anyway, we now have mostly instant food for the next month and a place to store our tools and materials for a month. After that we're broke again. So we better manage to get stuff together to sell next time we dock with Stellvia again.
October 15th, 2009
Well, well, well...
Looks like we managed to fill our cargo hold for the first time. We managed to capture a number of old satellites, but out best catches are two Agena Target Vehicles from the Gemini program. One from Gemini 8 and the other of Gemini 10.
We put our catch up on the Interwave and there are a number of fen who want them. But I have the feeling that the U.S. Space & Rocket Center or the Smithsonian are going to make it for those two. They just have more money...
"Guys," Danni said as she popped her head through the hatch leading into the cockpit, a wide grin on her face. "You never guess what I just got us."
"A stripper?" Alex wondered and got a glare from Danni, while the other chuckled.
"Nope," she said and the grin returned to her face. "A big contract! I called a fried of mine who works at SES Astra."
"And?" Naedial wondered. Over the last weeks she had become something of the captain of their little crew.
"Astra is willing to pay us for cleaning up their orbits. We can even keep the old Astra birds as salvage."
The other three looked at each other for some time before grinning.
"There's more. If we could do it, they'd be willing to pay us for doing maintenance on their current working birds. Refueling the tanks, replace transceivers. Stuff like that."
While Alex and Thomas grinned at each other and moved to get themselves a beer, Naedial looked thoughtful.
"I hope we can get that on paper," she noted." I'd hate to have some big company dirtside to call us criminals or something."
"My friend wants to meet us in two days on Stellvia for talks and maybe even signing the contracts."
Later that day, the Toy Box was well on a trajectory that would get her to L5 and Stellvia, the four crew members sat around the table in the small kitchen again, eating lunch.
"You know," Naedial piped up after she finished." We should get us an Operation Base if we really want to get into this business. Somewhere to repair the Box and maybe even a satellite. Stellvia isn't going to cut it.
The others looked at her.
"And what do you have in mind?" Alex wondered before biting down into a sandwich.
"Our own station."
Thorsten snorted and Danni raised an eyebrow.
"Do you know how much we need to build our own station? Even with the Smithsonian buying GATV-5003, we can't pay for one."
Thorsten takled about the Agena Target Vehicle of Gemini 8 that was bought by the Smithsonian for about two million dollar, while U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville was willing to pay one and a half million for the ATV of Gemini 10, GATV-5005.
"That's the beauty. Very little."
Again the reactions varied. From a raised eyebrow, to a snort or a shaking head.
"Anyone knows the term 'Wet Workshop'?" Naedial asked with a grin, stretching her wings slightly.
"One of your perverted ideas. No doubt," Alex noted dryly, quipping on the wogons special preferences. Naedial snorted with a grin on her face, while the other two laughed.
"She's taking about a idea to use old rocket stages or external shuttle tanks as space stations," Fee noted after a moment. "Stellvia uses that with its habitat ring."
"Exactly," she notes." I've done a little research and stumbled over Skylab. It was build from a S-IVB stage of the Saturn V."
She grinned a little more.
"And now take a guess how many S-IVB stages currently float in solar orbit..."
"Six?" Thorsten wondered.
"Three," came from Alex.
"Ten," Danni said after playing a little with her fingers to count the manned Apollo missions.
"Close, but no cigar," Naedial said with a grin." There are five spend stages. And some of the eggheads from the NASA think that the one from Apollo 12 has been captured again by Earth for a while."
"A single one has a volume of nearly six 40 foot containers," she noted and chuckled again." At least that is what Wolfram Alpha tells me. That would be about four times the volume of our cargo hold with all five stages. That should be enough space to set up a workshop for our tools, a repair bay and some living quarters."
The wogon grinned a little more.
"If we manage to find a couple of Centaur or Agena satellite busses we can even add some tanks for remass and our own 'vawium."
The others looked at their rather exited looking 'captain' and Thorsten leaned to Danni.
"If she starts to cackle madly, I'm out of the "Box as soon as we hit Stellvia.
October 17th, 2009
And we are in!
Two contracts with SES Astra. One to remove their old satellites and a second one to run maintenance on the rest.
There is only one problem with the second contract...
They want to send one of their own men and a certified astronaut up to do the actual maintenance. In a sense we're only going to act as a ferry service.
Well, at least Danni used to work in the satellite end production when she was still employed by EADS Astrium.
But it looks like Whistler Orbital Services is now officially in business...
November 6th, 2009
We got our station nearly finished. Some finishing touches on the main air lock and we should be set up.
We do have a hard seal on the two S-IVBs that are the workshop, the cargo hold and the living quarters, but there are still a few problems with the air lock. I'm going to take a look at it, while the crew goes to Stellvia with two of our salvaged Centaurs to fuel up on water.
Someone needs to stay behind until we can get an AI online to control our station.
Still need a name. Right now its a tossup between Stardust and KA Preiswert.
Naedial floated inside the currently gravityless S-IVB stage that was to act as a large airlock for any larger items they hoped to fix. It was welded to three of the four other former third stages of the Saturn V. Sheet steel smoothed over the edges of the stages, making it appear to have straight edges with rounded corners. One of the rounded corners formed the airlock to open space.
The fifth stage was sitting on top of the others with a docking adapter on the end for the Toy Box.
"Damned thing," Naedial grumbled as she stared at the open box that was build to control the two air locks of the stage.
It had not yet been 'waved and some cables stuck from it, while a small black microcontroller seemed to taunt Naedial.
Frustrated from her lack of any process with the thing, she took a hammer and gave the box a light whack.
There was a spark as she accidentally bridging two cabled. Before she knew what happened the inner air lock had closed and the well known mysterious blue smoke poured out of the box.
"Ahh shit," Naedial said and peered into the box, trying to find the origin.
Sometimes it was handy to have training as electronic technician, even if it had all been three nearly wasted years as no one had given her a job after it.
Looking at the box, she noticed a small capacitor that had all but exploded in the small energy spike from the hammer spike and she sighed. Now she had to take it out and exchange it for a new one.
She was about to reach for a screwdriver as she noticed a creaking and turned her head to see how the outer air lock buckled lightly.
"Oh fuck," she muttered.
That was bad. She had completely forgotten to get her life support stuff in the workshop and now the air lock looked ready to burst open.
A few thoughts shot through her head, most importantly the thought that she was not going to explode messily in space, unlike in the movies. Maybe she could get into the air lock at the docking port when she hyperventilated now to get as much oxygen into her blood before the airlock burst open?
Oh, who was she kidding... This was not '2001: A Space Odyssey'...
Grabbing a nearby handrail welded to the inner wall of the former tank, she held for her dear life as the air lock finally burst open, adding some debris to semi-synchronous orbit that was going to be picked up later.
The thought that moved through Naedials head was that her friends were going to find her lifeless corpse hanging off the handrail when they returned.
Rather then trying to hold her breath, she let go of the air in her lungs, hoping against all odds that she would make it. Trying to hold her breath would only make her lungs explode.
Seconds ticked by as she reached for other handrails, to pull herself into free space and eventually to the dock, waiting for unconsciousness to claim her at any moment now.
The seconds stretched to a minute as she reached the edge of the airlock and looked outside. Immediately she felt warmer as the sunlight from behind her hit her wings.
She had long since learned that her wings were useless as actual wings and were mostly heat radiators as she had lost the ability to sweat with the biomod. Now the heat was cycled back into her body as the spread wings caught the sunlight.
There was still no sign of a beginning unconsciousness as she pulled herself out of the airlock and up towards the edge of the former tank where they had bolted a conventional ladder to the stations hull to move around easier. That would allow her to get to the docking air lock quite fast.
As the next minutes of careful maneuvering in micro gravity ticked by, Naedial noted a few more things. For one the tears of her eyes, while it had frozen solid by now, were still fully clear, allowing her to see everything around her. Her saliva did not present much of a problem either.
Finally she managed to grab hold of the ladder and pulled herself along it towards the upper end of the station and the docking port. She opened the empty and airless airlock at the port, pulling herself inside before cycling it.
Slowly air filled the air lock and she began to take in her first deep breathes in minutes, while curiosity got the better of her.
She had just survived in space without any shielding in the sense of a space suit for several minutes and she didn't even feel too winded about it. Not more then after taking about ten flights of stairs. So she looked at her watch as she took more careful breathes.
The air lock opened to the inside to take a look at the rudimentary station controls. Opening a log file she noted the time when the air lock had opened to space. She blinked a few times, the ice over her eyes melting again.
She had just survived about fifteen minutes without a breath.
Then it hit her. The handwavium that had accidentally biomodded her had been intended to vacuum proof and armor the Toy Box. Apparently it had extended to her as well.
She grinned widely. That had potential. Maybe she could whip up a breathing mask and get rid of the uncomfortable helmet and the even more uncomfortable wing and tail bags?
As the Toy Box returned two hours later with two water filled Centaur II stages, Naedial hung inside the open large airlock trying to fix the air lock controller, wearing only her wetsuit, tool/stuff belt and a 'waved respirator mask that had originally been meant for work inside the workshop.
Needless to say they were grilling her after that for days until letting it drop. From then on Naedial would always keep the respirator on her tool/stuff belt, then with an integrated bluetooth headset connected to her 'waved cellphone.
November 15th, 2009
So much for calling our station Stardust. While we were not looking a couple of Rhodanites had set up shop at L5 and called their station Stardust. Calling a station in semi-synchronous orbit Stardust when there is one named the same in the more populated L5 is a bad move.
So we decided that we'd go with out alternative, KA Preiswert.
But we won't hold it against them. We are Rhodanites as well, even through we're more of generalists with strong leanings towards Hard SciFi.
Still, time to turn on the new computer system and see if an AI awakens.
Everyone was more or less standing in the small control center of KA Preiswert looking at the various screens that lined one of the bulkheads, while three new high end blade server racks, about a quarter million dollar in hardware, sat along another. There was hardly any place to stand. Danni, Thorsten and Alex had trouble standing inside, even with the chair pulled out, so Naedial had to stand outside, through her size allowed her to peer inside the room anyway.
"Here goes nothing," Danni said as she glanced at the large breaker switch next to the servers.
She flipped the switch and power from the 'waved Fusor flowed through tick cables into the server racks, awakening the 'waved Multicore CPUs to life. Familiar BIOS lines and other information scrolled down the screens, different to most other bootups of AI systems. Then, blank screens.
Only the breathing of four people, the low whirring sound coming from the fans of the servers and the low rumble of the life support system could be heard for the next few minutes, while the screens remained blank.
Then a single command prompt opened on one screen and everyone blinked.
"Thats it?" Alex wondered and stared at the keyboard and mouse combo that sat in front of the wall of screens.
'I'd know about it if anything else had happened' appeared on the screen, the prompt jumping to the next line.
Again everyone blinked, looking at the screen, while the noise from the servers increased a little with it accessing the Internet and Interwave systems.
"At least something," Thomas noted dryly before turning to Danni, who had set up the servers. "What did you put into the hard drives?"
Danni sighed and eyed the servers and at a small USB Stick that poked out from an USB port.
"My Rhodan collection," she said.
This made everyone look at her and then at the screens.
"Lets hope that we have gotten us a nice AI..." Naedial noted. "I'd hate to have some MdI hiding in out station."
'I'd know about that' the screen printed out followed by 'I will keep out of the private quarters'
'I will keep out of the private quarters'
'Now please excuse me while I familiarize me with my surroundings'
'Which is the reason why I not yet use any other IO'
Everyone looked at each other.
"Who are you," Danni finally asked.
'You may call me SENECA'
November 20th, 2009
With KA Preiswert now finished, we called SES Astra that we were ready to start up on our contract and remove some of the older Astra satellites from their graveyard orbits. They then told us that they had a technician and a former ESA astronaut for use to ferry around when we get to do maintenance on the sattelites.
Apparently their astronaut was removed from the astronaut corps of ESA when the Ammis stopped the shuttle back in 2008 and got hired by Astra just last week. They are now on their way to Stellvia, where we will meet up with them in about two days.
Looks like we got two more crew members.
November 22th, 2009
Got to meet our new men.
André DuPond, no relation to that company, our new technician and Terris O'Conner our actual astronaut. Not that he had ever been in space before. Both seem to be nice enough guys, but they are a bit overwhelmed by Fenspace. Oh well, I'm sure that we'll be able to set them straight up here. By the end of the week they will take me as being normal up here. Compared to some of the fen I'm actually normal...
January 10th, 2010
Looks like Terris wants to remain in space. As André was called back to Earth to be rotated around with another technician for Astra, Terris told them that he wants to hire up with us.
Astra allowed it and we now have a real astronaut among us. Well, at least until we are all actual spacers.
Astra also notes that they wouldn't send up another technician, as Terris is trained for the job as well. and because we actually did a good job.
February 5th, 2010
We do some good work for Astra it seems. Eutelsat has approached us with two contracts very similar to that of Astra. Since we have Terris and know what we do by now, they won't sent anyone up to us.
Another job is one for the ESA and the NASA. Looks like SOHO out at the Earth-Sol L1 makes some problems and they asked us to see what we can do. Fee has already received the plans for SOHO and we're going to see what he have on un-'waved materials that could be used to repair SOHO. But it looks like we're going to be out a little longer than normal. One week at least.
As the Toy Box undocked from KA Preiswert and slowly moved away from the station with its altitude jets, the lights in the workshop were dimmed by SENECA to conserve energy.
Minutes later a small LED light lit up in one of the shelves that contained parts from an old salvaged US satellite. No one exactly knew what the satellite had done when it was still active, but the hardware was rather hardy and useful for quite a few fen. Only the main computer bus had remained behind.
An hour later the computers of the workshop powered up and seemed to work on their own, something SENECA noticed within microseconds. But the stations computer didn't do anything, being kept out of the workshops systems and not being ordered what to do in this case.
So the webcams that acted as his eyes observed how the machines in the workshop began with a mysterious construction on their own.
February 21st, 2010
The SOHO mission was longer then expected. The bird had more problems then the eggheads at ESA/NASA thought. Actual testing of the solar observatory showed a good number of problems they did not notice with the software readouts.
And then we had to help some idiot in a Corolla who forgot to fill up on petrol.
He's now safe and sound at Stellvia.
And we will be happy to get back to KA Preiswert.
There was a hiss of air as the airlock on top of KA Preiswert opened up and Naedial peeked through.
"Honey, we're home!" she called out, making the other snicker behind her.
"I hope you had a successful mission, ma'am," SENECA noted in his normal completely dry deadpan tone of voice. For his voice alone he would have made a good British butler.
"Reasonably," Naedial noted and sighed. "You know the files."
"That I do."
Naedial slowly pulled herself through the airlock and turned herself as she pushed herself into the part of the station that was under gravity. By now she was long trained with this maneuver and it had lost its uniqueness.
"There is something in the workshop that you might want to see," SENECA noted after a few moments as the other fell through the airlock and dropped into the gravity of the station.
"Don't tell me that there is another 'wavium spill on the west shelve," Danni piped up. There had been a spill four weeks ago, going over about half the part the shelve had contained. Since they were not powered no one could tell exactly what the parts were now capable of doing.
"I would know it if there was another spill," SENECA noted and brought an image of the workshop up to the screen.
On the screen something that resembled a metal egg floated towards one of the edges of the screen, while one of the robot arms of the workshop waved something red and floppy into the image for a moment.
"What the hell?"
The five man crew looked at each other before trying to get to the workshop first.
Somehow Naedial managed to be the first to get down the ladder that lead to the workshop first and pulled open the hatch to it. Being the first to look through she could see something that resembled an oversized anthropomorphic toy dragon in red rubber sitting on a bench, a seam slowly disappearing on its front. The others bumped into her from behind, pushing her forward.
She stumbled forward and towards the oversized toy, making her wave around her arms and wings for a few moments, before she reached out to hold herself up with the help of the red toy dragon.
In the same moment the toy dragon's eyes lit up from the inside and it reached out with its own arms to keep Naedial up, incidentally pressing her face into the toys chest. Here Naedial discovered that the toy appeared to be female, considering the now quite obvious most common superpower.
"What the heck?" Terris summed up everyones thoughts.
Half an hour later everyone had gathered in the living room of KA Preiswert, sitting on the couches, while the dragon toy was standing in one corner.
After finding out that the dragon was not dangerous, they had used the time to review a video that SENECA had made during the SOHO mission, showing what exactly had happened in the workshop.
"Why didn't you call us?" Danni finally asked.
"My orders said that I only was to call you if something was wrong with the station. I fail to see how unexpected activity in the workshop could be seen as something being wrong with the station."
Everyones heads then turned around to face the red dragon.
"What do you mean you asked him not to tell us?" Alexander asked, before what had just happened sunk in.
Everyone knew what the dragon has said, but no one could remember actually hearing it.
"What" Thorsten made as a reaction.
"It appears that our new friend does not communicate normally," SENECA noted dryly." I would not call it telepathy, since I seem to understand her as well. I just seem to know what she wanted to say, just as you apparently."
Now that they were able to somehow understand the dragon, she communicated that she was the computer module of a late 80s SigInt satellite. Apparently she gained sentience in the wake the 'wavium spill. Only with the crew of the Toy Box leaving for an extended time had allowed her to take control of the workshop to build herself a new body. Somehow she had come over the files describing the VARIO-500 robot from Perry Rhodan, and some of Naedials personal files, and had decided on using that as a body.
"I am not a newfangled toy!" SENECA suddenly called out, making everyone blink at the vehement tone in his voice." I am a highly sophisticated Artificial Intelligence. And my defenses are up to date."
The eyes once again turned to the dragon, who just shrugged visibly.
"Okay, what are you going to do now?" Naedial asked after a few moments of silence, making the dragon shrug again commuting that she did not know.
"How about working for us?" Danni suggested, eying the dragon shaped AI.
"Not exactly what I would do," SENECA noted, his voice sounding put off by the dragon.
What followed was a longer discussion about whether or not they could trust the dragon. It had build itself in secret. But it had not attacked anyone. It had remained silent during the two week after the spill. But it did note that it did not know anything about the station and crew then.
"What is your name anyway?" Terris asked in between, once again making the dragon shrug, communicating that it did now have a name.
"How about 'Vario'?" Naedial suggested after a while, making the dragon nod.
The discussion what to do with the newly named Vario continued for the rest of the day, eventually leading to the conclusion that they would give her a chance. Curiously Vario ended up sitting on Naedial's lap.