It didn't take long for the Ship Design effort to come up with a rough concept, but the actual detailed design took a little longer because they wanted to design it around materials on-hand.
The one thing they new they didn't have was fuel, or what would be their fuel. To everyone else it was just a combination of elemental fluids. Logistics was tasked to get an abundance of storage tanks, fill them and then keep them full of fuel from then on. Hildi was busy with Sam and the navigation team, but Jown had nothing to do. He felt left out and needed something to do. After looking at all of the tasks it seemed to him the missing link was weapons so he found an empty office with a computer and started thinking about how to make a weapon and how to employ it.
Two weeks in and modifications on a common spherical tank began. The detail design wasn't near finished, but they worked out the internal energy trigger projector shapes and spacing first so fabrication could get started. By the time the triggers were made in the machine shop and installed the external exciters, control and power cabling, and control module were designed in. The power was a problem. From the text information they understood how the alien power modules worked, but didn't posses the manufacturing equipment to make them. They chose instead, at least for the test drone, to go with a small conventional engine and generator. But that meant they needed and external fuel tank for the generator. In the long run that would be clumsy. The aliens used a special block with their drive to generate power and keep the power blocks charged. A special design team was formed to work on the power supply problem for a long term solution. Six weeks from the start and the test drone had the remote control module installed and programmed with a crude control program. Testing began the next day.
It was a great relief to everyone except Johann when the drone moved under it's own power in direct drive mode. He wasn't relieved until it leaped instantaneously from sitting still to 10 KPH. Then from 10 KPH to 1000 KPH. Then from 1000 KPH to 100,000 KPH and it was gone from their scanners. It was a good thing their control program worked and it returned itself safely to the base. They shut it down, defueled it, and scanned it inside and out for any signs of cracks or problems. The checked the stress-strain instrumentation data and found that it had experienced essentially no stress at all. As promised by Johann the leaps from speed to speed and instantaneous turns were made without any acceleration effects. They refueled it, programmed in a much higher speed test routine and let it go. It returned several hours later with all of the data the design team needed to extrapolate to a full sizes ship. When he watched the drone exercises Jown had an idea and cornered Johann for a long conversation about weapons. After that he wasn't seen except at meals for many days.
The Navigation team had finished their job fairly early and went to work with the Communications and Sensors folks. Now they were nearing completion. They had come up with the necessary IFF, but they would need the current security codes for it from their neighbors. For sensors they determined it would take too long to adapt the alien technology for the projectors and receivers, so they decided to simply use human sensors which should work fine. Meanwhile the power supply team made a minor breakthrough. They developed a manufacturing method for making an alien power block. It wasn't anywhere as compact as the alien blocks, but it would be able to be recharged by the gravity drive trigger energy and it had by our standards a very high-energy storage capacity. They tested it by making a small cell which they fitted onto the drone. They programmed the human generator to be used as an emergency backup only and sent the drone off again to test the new power block. It developed an overheating issue, but the team was undaunted and soon modified the design and manufacturing process. The modification worked fine and the problem was solved.
Now the Ship Design Team had the job of melding current ship design things like control consoles, pilot seats, air revitalization, fresh water systems, sanitary systems, etc, with the new gravity drive, new power block, IFF and weapons. But it wouldn't look like any normal ship. In order to use Johann's potential gravity leap velocities it would have to be a large sphere with all personnel inside. It would be a sphere in a sphere with hatch tunnels from inside to outside and pockets inside the outer skin for sensors and weapons. Everything else would be inside the inner sphere. The main weapon would be what they named a gravity lance. It was a narrow beam gravity field formed by building a high potential gravity just like they were moving (and in fact using this weapon would cause a velocity shift), but then releasing it in a very narrow beam at a target. But Jown had a surprise of his own. He developed command and control programming and independent attack programming for drones. They would be carried in outer pockets of a very large mother ship. These drones would be free to enter a fur ball without endangering people. Yet with their gravity lances they could do great damage and then quickly avoid any counter attack. The ship design team decided to make two designs; one large mother ship with their drones and a few people to control them and communicate with the aliens. A second ship design would be one-man fighters with no drones. This would give them two effective weapons so that if the drones were disabled they wouldn't be suddenly out-of-the-battle and useless far from home.
Again the hull constructions started very early while the rest of the two designs were being completed. This work took much longer than the drone. It was nearly a year before “Mother” was completed and ready for trials. Mother’s children, the weapons drones, were finished and tested 6 months earlier. The intervening time was used allowing their controllers to practice controlling the drones and attacking practice targets. The half dozen smaller manned ships were completed and just finishing trials when Mother first moved. It seemed and awful long time, wouldn’t the war be already lost by now? The answer was no. From their limited news records it was clear that the invaders moved very slowly from system to system. It might be a year or more between systems, but at the very least many months. Their neighbors occupied over 50 systems. This would be a long, long war if they weren’t successful.
In spite of that everyone felt an urgency to finish. Mother’s problems identified during testing were mostly fixed while she was underway still conducting other tests. When she finally returned to the station the remaining problems were quickly corrected and she was pronounced ready. The Logistics folks had as usual surmounted all of their problems and even made one brief visit to the alien asteroid base to pick up a couple of communication blocks. Everyone was ready just after the turn of the year. The executive committee tried to block Glen from going, but there was no stopping him because he had an ace, he was the only one of them with any military experience. He had risen to the station of XO on a cruiser before he resigned to take up a new opportunity with MNES. He would command the battle group. Johann and Hildi would share quarters on Mother. Johann had to be there in case they ran into any scientific difficulties and Hildi of course was needed for translation. Johann would also serve as a weapons drone controller. Jown meanwhile would captain his own new fighter. Sam and the Executive committee were left at the station to keep up appearances and pick up the pieces if they failed and didn’t return, or even if they succeeded but didn’t return.
Posted by strailon Sunday, December 16, 2012 @ 15:00:00 UTC