CAPTAIN GIGA, CHAPTER 2: OUR COMMON GOAL

GIGA2-0
     Things happened this way. One day Captain Giga told me about his plan, to build a Boundary-Crossing Glider. He had plenty of money, he knew lots of people, and he was in the Navigators’ trade—respected by everybody—so . . . I believed him. He asked me if I was interested to work on his project.
     It was obvious he intended to repay my work only with the honor of building “his Glider”, but I accepted it. That was an exceptional opportunity to implement my first spaceship design, and then to test it in real-life conditions.

     I became deeply involved. I rushed to sketch the hull of the Glider, the hull deflectors, dynamic stabilizers, and then the engines. Next, I went on detailing patiently each subsystem module.
     We lost the first year with starting and abandoning two Glider models proposed by the Captain. He was openly cynical about my designing aptitudes; besides, he wanted a “tested model”!
     It had been incredibly difficult to persuade him to accept my design. The strongest argument I found was this: “‘His Glider’ had to be different and better than all others.
     Finally, one day he got so angry he told me to go away, to forget about the Glider, and to mind my own things. I did just that but, seventeen days later, he came to me in a defensive attitude, and he asked hesitantly about my work. That was the moment when things actually started to unfold.

     It took us about six Karr years of an incredibly difficult work, made even harder by Giga's rough behavior—he had booted me out at least fifteen times—though Hesa became a real thing. It looked like nothing ever built before, and all local “experts” were openly doubtful about its qualities. Unfortunately, those nasty comments made my cooperation relations with Captain Giga even tenser.
     The good part was, Hesa was different, meaning, it was way nicer than any Glider ever built on Karr. She was truly impressive!

     There were only a few Gliders on Karr, and all of them were improvised, custom built models, because our KANST Government didn’t encourage the proliferation of Boundary Crossing Gliders, or any other type of a private spaceship. We had been allowed to continue our work only because nobody dared crossing Captain Giga—not even the government people! Besides, everybody who knew about us was terribly curious to see if our strange design was going to work, or not.
GIGA2-1
     In ’32, at the end of the Trading-Season, Hesa was finished, functionally. Outside she was bare unfinished metal, and there was a lot of finishing work needed inside, though she was in a perfect functional condition. Both of us rushed to launch it.
     Personally, I was anxious to test an invention I implemented on Hesa in secret—and also to end my long and tiresome slavery work on “his Glider”. In the other side, Giga wanted to clear his doubts about Hesa’s space worthiness.
     The fact that the Trading Season was ended, and the Storms Season was in full effect, was totally not important to any of us. I was certain that Hesa could stand to any storm, since I increased three times all her critical structures. As for the Captain, no storm could have deflected him away from his plans, despite his permanently nagging Ionic Storm Fever. No, Sir; not Captain Giga.

     After five days of brief preparations, we launched surrounded only by sarcastic smiles. Giga had managed to fill the cargo-bay with 955 barrels of an awfully stinking organic oil—there was no way I could convince him to navigate to Ena-Ihta without a cargo of some sort. That cargo load was slowing Hesa a lot but, once we lifted off, it became obvious she was faster and more responsive than any other Glider ever built on Karr!
     Five private Gliders were accompanying us, in order to offer assistance in case of emergency, though soon we left them all far behind. We went straight up very fast, well above the orbital planetary plane, then we started on a gentle parabola down towards the Boundary, to Ena, and to Ihta.

     The Boundary Zone appears between the Padi and Ena Planetary Systems. A certain quantity of the Nebula matter is trapped there, and it is strongly ionized by radiations coming from both Stars. The Storms-Season comes in effect when Ena is closer to Padi on its elliptic trajectory. Due to the increased Ehgha-vectors interference, the storms activity inside the Boundary Zone also increases up to the point of becoming dangerous for navigation.
     The Glider type of spaceships has a few remarkable characteristics, compared to the ordinary Trade Ships. First of all, Gliders are all very small because they are primarily built for pleasure travel. Inside the Padi or the Ena Systems, Gliders and Trade Ships have almost the same speed, since they are both propelled by the Najka-Derin ionic wave engines.
     The noticeable difference appears when crossing the Boundary: since there is matter inside the Boundary Zone, both types of spaceships have to slow down a lot. Trade Ships use a matter deflection technique to cross the Boundary, while Gliders use the electromagnetic attraction and repulsion forces of the polarized ionic matter. Consequently, a Glider is, roughly, three to four times slower, except it consumes ten to twenty times less fuel . Anyway, the point to note is, driving a Glider inside the Boundary Zone requires particularly tough skills, and only a few are able to do it properly.
GIGA2-2
     About ten Karr hours since our flight started we encountered the first problem: the fore-right deflector was missing a tensile coupling connection. We stopped our engines, then I went out to correct that situation. I discovered the problem was a fastener, and it was common to all the couplings, and to all deflectors. We had lost one iranem fastener during take off, then I managed to lose a second one by accident, and Giga was blowing steam furiously around—those iranem fasteners were absurdly expensive. However, we had three more spare fasteners, so I worked for half a day to secure all the couplings appropriately. Truth was, that was a design mistake, only it was a minor one.
     While working, I noticed that there was no sign of storms in the Boundary Zone, ahead of us. That was good news, although I knew that good weather could change inside the Boundary Zone in no time during that Season. Once finished with all repairs, we continued our journey down towards the Boundary.

     The following day we actually entered the Boundary Zone, and we soon encountered what has been later named, “the Great Storm of ’32”. It was magnificent! I never thought it was possible that Nebula storms could be so beautiful! Honestly, I measured electromagnetic waves of over fifty-eight NSTs; I have seen plays of iridescent lights impossible to describe into words; I witnessed perplexingly strong ionization phenomena; and I heard all sorts of enchanting harmonic sounds inside the metal parts of our little Glider!
     Captain Giga had been caught by his Ionic Storm Fever seizures, therefore he locked himself in his cabin. That was just perfect with me, since I was able enjoy that marvelous cosmic spectacle in a total relaxation!
 
     I wasn't afraid. Fact is, I am never afraid when my hands are on the controls. Giga was well aware of my gliding skills, so he only checked on my vector, and on my state of mind, over the interlink from time to time.
     I do not know, it could be something within my very nature, but I think I am the best Glider driver on Karr. However, I strongly believe that is due, mostly, to my scientific training. You see, I am a Technician, not a Navigator. Somehow, I am able to “feel” each ionic wave of the storm long before it comes to hit us, therefore I polarize each deflector to the best way possible, to catch and use every last drop available of that electromagnetic energy.
     In comparison, Captain Giga could barely move a Glider. In order to cross the Boundary Zone gliding, he needed about half a Season to do it. He had decided on building Hesa out of pride, to be among the “very few”, though he wasn't able to take it over the Boundary by himself. His favorite aphorism during the past six years had been, “People are poor, but if you don’t have a Glider, you are very poor!” I suspect he was very proud of being a Glider owner, although the true meaning of his words still eludes me as I write these words . . .
GIGA2-3
     The Great Storm of ’32 remained known in history as a true monster, though Hesa performed admirably! I remember it happened only six or seven times that it rolled briefly out of control, during those seven days crossing, and that was only when I was asleep. We rushed too much to launch Hesa, therefore we were not prepared to face a serious storm like that one.
     Normally, we should have had at least two aft static stabilizers, and storm-category seven or eight fore deflectors, but we didn’t have any. When I was too tired, I simply powered the engines down and Hesa went adrift. No automatic pilot could have handled the Glider during that storm. The bare truth is, using the automatic pilot could have broken Hesa in two if I was fool enough to engage it.
     Honestly, the sleeping time during those days was the most relaxing one I ever experienced! My body was totally broken after an entire day of riding the waves of the storm, and my head was foggy due to the maddening, never ceasing sounds of vibrating metal. However, when I was too tired and I went asleep, an amazing serenity engulfed me, as never before or after, in my entire life!
     Hesa could have hit a rock, or she could have been hit by a wandering rock—and we would have died instantly—but I simply did not care about anything. There was only peace, relaxation, and happiness inside my soul: that was the “Boundary Storms’ Charm”!

     After four days we actually crossed the political Boundary. In the other side, the storm appeared to be even more violent than before, as if the space had other characteristics there. I was stunned to see sparkling blue, red, and violet lights exploding each time Hesa was struck by a wave, or when I changed direction. I read about that phenomenon, but seeing it was totally different. Besides, those lights were particularly strong, and they had such perplexingly strange color gradients . . .

GREEN LEAVES




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