The Pegasus could best be described as a mass displacement vehicle. It's own mass would be transformed into energy at a controllable rate. Once on board and inside the gravitational field barrier, the passenger would not feel most of the acceleration as the vehicle gained in kinetic energy. This would permit acceleration rates equivalent to greater than 1,000,000g with max speed achievable in less than 30 seconds. On board, reactors took a little longer than 30 seconds to bring up to full resonance and fully charged, but this wouldn't matter. The guards would not be able to determine his intentions by observing magnetic nor charge fluctuations and conditions. Normally Jim would always fully charge the buggy.
"You babes are knockouts. Why won't Isis let me play with you in the Pleasure Dome?"
"You'll get your chance sweetheart and I promise to turn your heart inside out as you beg for more," said the brunette.
"In your dreams, but you still look great," replied Jim. "Tell me something ladies, would you like a promotion to be my lieutenants?"
"We're captains now, why should we take a cut?" said the blonde.
"Better a lieutenant for the winner, than a captain for the loser," laughed Jim.
"Very funny, Jim. When you're in a position to be something other than her majesty's boy-toy, then perhaps we'll consider that," giggled Antiope.
"Can you imagine that, Antiope? Jimmy boy thinks he can give us something that she can't!"
"I don't know Helen. Maybe I should just ask Isis for a bout with Jim in the Pleasure Dome to see if it's he, she or me that decides if Jimmy keeps his pants on. You know full well it'll be her and my decision Jimmy, and that you have absolutely no say so. I think I'll have you next Thursday evening. How does that grab you, Jimmy?"
"How about tonight?"
"When I want it boy, and not before then."
The hull of the Pegasus, as most spacecraft, was made of double thin, machinable and slightly flexible tubular ceramic honeycombs shielded by a transparent quasigas which be manipulated in appearance to resemble any combination of a myriad of color or even focus any frequency of RF possible at any object within the starship's spher of influence. This materials consisted of nested lattices of superconductors, odd shaped embedded magnetic monopole structures, supercapacitors, waveguides, resonators, and perfect electrical and magnetic insulatio. With all this, there is infinite resistance to fire danger, resists any damaging effects of severe heat and cold, and small collision. The hardness of such armor could easily pass through magnetic fields, and on board computers avoided dangerous collisions with an expert navigational control system.. The inner hull was layered by gold, copper, silver, aluminum and various other metal sheets bonded to the ceramic. Countless nanoblackboxes were embedded into the crystalline parts of the hull. Crystalline sheet were separated from the next sheet by one or two inches of high permittivity ceramic coated with gold.. These various sheet arrays are capable of discharging or absorbing electromagnetic field energy of very high levels.
Within the outer space shield and interface was an elaborate liquid metal manifold of a mercuric fluid containing tiny magnets of extreme permeability.. Surrounding the manifold were thousands of cylindrical wedge shaped supercooled resonant cavities which were tuned to react with the mercuric manifold and then operated to provide thrust. Ionic drive usually was not used until the field drive had reached peak velocity of .7C.
The power plant is contained well within the heart of the ship. The older ships used fusion power. The Pegasus power source of course, was the latest and best of Venetian power generation technology. All field coils were super-cooled, super- conducting ceramic materials. Viewing the Pegasus take-off would give a great light show, as the observer would notice the craft's light emissions phase through the rainbow from red on up through the spectrum until ultimately, the ship would disappear. The ground observer may not notice that the craft would actually contract in size as it defied gravity to escape to the heavens.
Inside, the craft was outfitted as a luxury yacht. For indeed this was the queen's flagship, and as such it had to be equipped with all the luxuries that she would desire for space flight. Comfort inside was legendary. A miniature Pleasure Dome had been built and she even had a court chamber on board to conduct any necessary court business while in transit. The bridge had a magnificent display from which the pilots could very easily ascertain navigational information. On board computers and electronics regulated all life support and auxiliary systems with utmost precision and infallibility. Venetian engineering was the best in the universe. The females loved to use this to justify their right to dominate, yet it seemed to be the poor Amazon males that dreamed the machine up in the first place. Still, Isis contended that were it not for her empire and strong organization, the crafts could never be built. Both claimed credit for the craft and perhaps it could be argued that each is correct. The bottom line at the present was the fact that currently Jim was the only Venetian citizen who knew all the systems of the Pegasus. When push came to shove, Jim built it and Isis would never be able to dispute that. Granted, Jim didn't actually do the labor, but he was the only one who had full knowledge of all the ship's systems.
From the outside she looked like an enormous sphere. A mile in diameter and yet she floated effortlessly in her moors. To gain access, the passengers were flown to an access hatch at the pole. At the base of the sphere was a solid beam of light, which was attenuated by a protective screen to prevent eye damage. This beam served more or less as ground power supporting the ship in a cold standby condition. To achieve liftoff from a cold standby involved basic life support checkouts, a communication shakedown, power ops and systems tests, field generators warm up and a few other items.
"Her majesty desires the flagship at her palace," declared Antiope to the guardhouse primary sentry.
The sentry nodded. "Logging time, we have an ID with authorized access. Awaiting confirmation. Oh I see. Come right in. I'll order a transport immediately."
With the greatest of efficiency, a transport whisked to Jim's feet as he and the ladies stepped aboard. The ascent to the top was slow and leisurely as Jim insisted on a visual inspection of the ship's hull. The hull glistened in the light; seeming to anticipate its next venture. After the ascent, the craft landed on the top. The three disembarked and Jim sent the launch back to the ground.
"The key, Helen?" Jim requested.
Helen gave Jim the key, which he used to open portholes to the ship. A small number of circular patterns appeared on the hull. Each found a circle. Jim activated the next step of the key, as each platform gently lowered each occupant into a tube in which they were sent into the bowels of the ship.
Most of the ship's volume was dedicated to the massive honeycomb of drive genertors and liquid hydrogen manifolds. Any acquired mass which it could store could be energized to be released quite rapidly as she accelerated to light velocity. The passenger and crew access tubes would transport the passengers safely through a series of drive fields and protective shields. The end of the chute would find them in the reception area which was presently unoccupied, since the three were all that were aboard.
"It'll be the usual warm-up time, ladies. Make yourself comfortable. "
Helen made herself at home at the watchman's desk where she could monitor via a local area network the activities of Jim and Antiope. Antiope stayed by Jim's side.
"Could you switch on the ship's power for me, Antiope?," asked Jim.
"No way, do it all yourself. I want to check out the entertainment room. Let me know when we're ready to lift off."
"Very well, it may take a little longer."
"Longer? Schmoo! You have 45 minutes. You take a second longer and I'll really have to stay by your side the rest of the way. In fact, I'll think I'll stay a little too close for you."
"OK, but I'll bet you'll never notice me switching to artificial gravity."
"Sure, sure. Are you telling me you are really capable of flying this thing without making us nauseous?"
"I swear this time it will be so smooth you won't even notice."
"Sure, tell me another one. Give me fair warning so I can strap on all my seat belts very tightly," said Antiope.
"Since when have you worn restraints?" asked Jim as he grinned.
"I think I'll have you wear some restraints for me while I torment you with your desire for me," said Antiope.
"We've got some new virtual adventure disks; the best in the galaxy," said Jim.
"I'll go check them out. You've got 44 minutes."
With the precision of a Swiss watch and amazing speed, he took 35 minutes to power up, switch off external power, plot his navigational course (no palace today), power up artificial gravity and switch anti-gravity drive to active. He alerted the ladies that it was time to take off. They left their perches and joined him in the command center. He switched on audio-video so that they could view the outside. Their seats and controls actually floated in the midst of a spherical room which was actually a spherical screen displaying all necessary visual information. Most of the screen was an actual image of the space immediately outside the sphere. With the console fully activated, one had the illusion that there were indeed no walls to the vehicle. The electronic imagery was indeed very impressive to behold. It did not have to actually display the current space outside. It could also display recordings or simulations. Jim had the local gravity field set to simulate Artemis gravity. This field simulator enabled room occupants to not feel any acceleration forces that the ship would be subject to. Consequently, while he accelerated to near light speed, the passengers would not feel the accelerating effects. Acceleration was not limited by any of the precious cargo which could be protected by gravitational shields. How quickly the ship could accelerate was then a function of how rapidly it could deliver the required energy, and was not limited by the frailty of its cargo.
Essentially, the ship's inertia shifted by the coordinated quantum fluctuations caused by all the ship's resonant electromagnetic field effects. High frequency gravitational ripples effected Doppler shifting of external light so as to show acceleration to the ship in any desired direction., In effect an extreme amount of quasimatter with its opposite pair were rapidly ionized, accelerated and then recombined disappearing into oblivion. The space of the effect was all within a small distance from engine exhaust end. This allowed the engines to be layered in concentric and quite rotatable shells. Thrust, such created, was astronomical. The power was extracted from the on-board continuum reactors. These devices controlled the amount of radiation that was absorbed or released by the ship. Jim had designed the ship so that he could extract or deliver large amounts of energy conservatively from the light and radiation the ship was exposed to. This energy could be stored as on board mass when the ship was at rest.
Underway, the ship's superstructure became emblazoned with a tremendous amount of charged energy, as all mass fuel was ionized and prepped for work. The basic fuel above .7C was hydrogen. The reactors were capable of creating hydrogen as well as the corresponding anti-particles which it used for negative mass. In fact, the occupied region of the ship was virtually surrounded by a layer of anti-matter effects which effectively shielded the interior of the ship from acceleration effects. Outside this "gravitational shield", super- cooled conductor coils and the ship's capacitor banks would come alive as the auxilary hydrogen fuel would be ionized completely. Electrons would be stripped and trapped into the ship's electrical system. Much of the electricity would be used to create the intense magnetic fields needed for the shields, plasma containment, as well as the propulsion drive. Essentially, Jim would switch on "anti-gravity" which would eliminate the apparent weight of the ship. Although this alone created sufficient impulse on its own to give the ship lift, more power would be needed for the quickest get away. Field coils would create immense current lops in any orientation; thus the spherical shape of the ship. This would interact with the planets own fields so as to provide some additional thrust. Normally, only anti-gravity and the loop drives were needed for "slow" speed maneuvers. The ion accelerators were capable of ejecting an extreme amount of kinetic energy into the charged remnant of the hydrogen fuel, resulting in an extraordinary amount of thrust as almost all of the on-board hydrogen would be accelerated to light velocity and ejected as pure radiated energy. The ship would experience a corresponding sudden shift in mass as it was forced to accelerate to a very high velocity to keep momentum constant. On board reactors were capable of delivering almost unlimited energy due to the matter/antimatter extraction process. The tricky part was trying to get all this energy in such a short period of time while not overloading ship's systems or occupants. This getaway would be as fast as possible.
Amazingly enough, Idiot would still be able to track this motion, anticipate the trajectory, power up, intercept and expand to encompass the Pegasus, and whisk all away safely. Isis would never be prepared for such a maneuver since supposedly, Pegasus was the fastest vehicle in the galaxy. Obviously, the Box would put the Pegasus to shame. Surprise would be the element which would facilitate this effort.
Idiot would target to the black hole, pick up additional energy, slingshot through hyperspace and reinsert into real space at light speed with zero time passage arriving within Sol space between Jupiter and Mars. He would pause there to get a time fix, camouflage the Pegasus as an asteroid and use the Box to get to Earth. He would set up a portal on Earth between the Pegasus and Earth base. Now if Genie could only set him up with a portable portal that wasn't quite as capture sensitive as the Box. Well, therein rest the fuel for Jim's inventions: the need. Jim had amazing confidence in his ability to design a system to accomplish any task automatically, efficiently and of course, saving extreme amounts of labor and time.
The only wild card in Jim's plans was perhaps the most important; current affairs on Earth. Jim was uncertain as to when he would arrive. He simply wanted to beat the fleet that left forty years ago. Well, enough of the speculation. The only way to know is to find out what happens if.....
Chapter Five Antiope and Helen