Monthly Archives: April 2014

Short Story – Impact in…

This is going to be interesting and it’s probably going to hurt quite a lot as well.

Those were the first two thoughts to cross my mind when there was a bang from behind, an explosion of air and the oxygen mask dropped down in front of me. I automatically pulled it on, certainly different from my last plane crash, which was ohhh… 1917. A Forker managed to bounce me in my Sopwith Camel and stitched a line of bullet holes across the engine. I was lucky – it didn’t catch fire, otherwise I would have sizzled all the way down. Still I broke both my legs and it totally put me off flying for fifty years. The nice lady beside me who had been bending my ear about her daughter, the one whose PHD graduation she was going to attend, starts screaming. Damn shame about the daughter; she’s going to end up associating her moment of triumph with her mother’s death. Oh well what can you do?

I look over my shoulder and… hey, would you look at that! The plane just sorta ends a couple of rows behind me. We have us some full on structural failure – air crash investigation here we come; bloody modern rubbish, at least my old Camel stayed in one piece. The screams around me are fading now as oxygen deprivation kicks in. I consider pulling on her face mask and decide against it; she might come round again and that would be no kindness. With that decision made, all I can do now is sit back and enjoy the ride, so to speak.

Funny whenever death gets close I can always feel my brain speed up, I’ve tried drugs, sex, even rock and roll, any substance or experience that would give that same rush without the pain of actually dying. Never found one and obviously I haven’t enjoyed every death. My first time in particular sucked. Just before that Roundhead soldier stuck his sword through my throat, I remember dropping my pike, pissing my pants and screaming like a little girl. I guess it’s a bit like sex; the first time is never much good, just most people don’t get to have another go.

I suppose I could go find this daughter, tell her how proud her mother was. But then I get awkward questions like ‘how are you still alive?’ and hell I’ve been asking myself that one for centuries. Still this is one is going to be interesting. I’ve been stabbed, shot, bludgeoned, drowned, burned, overdosed and on one really memorable occasion, got stamped to death by an angry bull elephant but I always come back from it. This time round though I’m going to get smashed to smithereens; I wonder is this the one that finally kills me? Well soon find out.

Wow, this is taking longer than I expected. Come on, come on, I got things to do! I wonder how much longer to impa-




POSTSCRIPT: This one is the result of a writing group I attend, the word limit was 500 with the prompt – An immortal is a passenger on a jet that is going to crash

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Battle Fleet Universe – The Fuel Industry

For an observer from the early part of the century with its reliance on petrochemicals, it may come as a surprise that that only a few decades later the oil industry has largely withered away, with only a few industrial processes continuing to use oil and its byproducts. For energy generation fusion has become Earth’s principal power generation technique.  The principal source of fuel for this, is the harvesting industry that has been constructed around Saturn.

refinary 3

With Helium-3 concentration in Saturn’s atmosphere at about 10 parts per million, fuel can be harvested from the planet’s upper atmosphere by dedicated atmospheric skimmers. The cargo of these vessels is then transported to the refineries that orbit the planet, which separate out the useful elements. While some of these such as the Kyŏn Three platform pictured above, are government owned, the majority are owned by publicly listed corporations – many of which were businesses that converted from being oil companies.

Once purified the Helium-3 needs to be transported to Earth. This work is largely carried out by a type of vessel known as Slow Boats

slowboat approaching Earth

These vessel are not equipped jump drives, instead they spend months making the transit between Saturn and Earth in Real Space. Since once they have climbed out of Saturn’s gravity well they coast the rest of the distance, they are unmanned for the majority of their journey. It is only during the passage in and out of orbit that for safety and legal reason these vessels boarded by a pilot.

Slow boats fleet make up the majority of traffic within the solar system, operating in a steady stream, their passage is timed to create a continuous supply of fuel to Earth.

Slowboat & pilot 1

Interstellar Tankers

Interstellar fuel transports are by comparison much rarer. The majority of interstellar tankers are part of Battle Fleet’s logistical train. Those in civilian or government operation, serve mostly in the support of the colonies. Currently Earth has two colony worlds, Dryad and Landfall. A slow boat system is already in place for Dryad but in both cases tankers are used to support transports on route and bring in additional fuel where short term demand outstrips local transportation.

tanker 2

While the fuel source has changed, one fact that after fifty years remains the same is the fuel supply lines remain the lifeblood of civilization and society, as their security remains a primary concern for both militaries and governments.


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