Chapter 3 - Empty Gumball Machine
The engineering/maintenance bay filled the entire lower deck of the Chrysallaman scout saucer hangared in one of the underground warehouses at the secret Nevada desert base of FORCE. The bay was a circular shape 30 feet in diameter featuring a 10 foot wide by 7 foot high fusion reactor containment vessel at its center. Steel pipes for cooling entered near the top of the reactor and massive silvery porcelain power cables snaked from several couplings on the structure into an interconnected transformer and junction box. A steel mesh walkway circled the structure at deck level providing access to the myriad of controls on the reactor’s outer wall.
Earth scientists had long ago abandoned any effort to discover the secret of nuclear fusion technology. The invention of the Heinbaum Kinetic Generator had created a limitless power source making nuclear power look like a campfire trying to burn wet wood. A Kinetic Generator, or HKG as Dr. John Heinbaum was fond of calling his invention, tapped into Earth’s kinetic energy.
Kinetic energy of any object is the energy it possesses due to its motion. The energy it took over 4 billion years ago to initiate and maintain the daily spin of the Earth’s 1,000 trillion ton mass is frankly so enormous the only way to adequately explain the available power is with mathematics. Add to the spin energy the additional energy it took to orbit the Earth around our Sun and the amount of kinetic energy innately present within the mass of the Earth can be measured only on an astronomical scale.
The vexing problem with the Kinetic Generator was that in order for it to function, it had to be in close proximity to the moving planetary body. The HKG could only be used within 500 miles of a moving Earth-sized body of significant mass. The power generated decreased exponentially as the generator orbited farther away from the planet. As a result, Humans couldn’t build space ships powered by kinetic generators. The reason Doug Jenson and Becky Chang had been able to use their MA pistols on the Rkksshaw was because the mega-liner was orbiting the largest moon of Jupiter. Jupiter is 11 times larger than Earth and has 2.5 times as much mass as all the other planets in the Sol System combined. The kinetic energy of Jupiter extended 750,000 miles away from its surface, thus providing plenty of power to the HKG’s in the MA pistols.
Discovering the secret of the gravity-drive used by the Chrysallamans to achieve near lightspeed for their spacecraft was the prime objective for research at the moment. It was theorized the HKG would function in a spacecraft moving at near lightspeed since according to Einstein’s theories an object moving at or near lightspeed would have infinite mass. Infinite mass traveling at lightspeed would have a tremendous amount of kinetic energy. At least that was the theory. There was no doubt the Chrysallaman gravity-drive somehow counteracted the increase in mass; otherwise, the amount of energy required to achieve lightspeed would be impossible to generate.
The housing for the gravity-drive module was connected into the top of the fusion reactor powering the scout saucer. The outer shell of the module was a clear, glassy sphere two feet in diameter. Within the base of the sphere, where it connected to the top of the fusion reactor, was a pyramid of the silvery porcelain material. Each of the four pyramid base lines measured six inches in length. The entire inner surface of the globe was lined with a thin mesh of the silvery porcelain. Each cell in the mesh was shaped like the honeycomb in a beehive. Four thin wires extruding from the centers of the four sides of the pyramid pointed respectively toward the north, south, east and west points of the spheroid’s equator. A final extrusion from the pinnacle of the pyramid pointed at the exact center of the mesh in the top of the globe.
Two men stood side by side within the cramped confines of a hydraulic manlift cage raised 8 feet above the scout saucer’s power room deck. Dr. Miguel Roemer was busy loosening the last of four hex bolts holding the base plate of the module to the top of the fusion reactor. Dr. John Heinbaum was impatient as usual.
“Really, Dr. Roemer, I could’ve had those bolts removed and the module on the deck minutes ago. Why are you moving so slowly?” Heinbaum demanded.
Keeping his concentration on the removal of the last bolt, Roemer replied, “I just don’t think it wise to rush the removal of a delicate piece of alien technology from atop an active fusion generator.”
“Bah! You’re temerity is astounding. I have demonstrably proven time and again the Chrysallamans construct their technology in modular units. Plug and play is their basic design methodology. The PnP design means the modules are self-contained. The whole point is to make maintenance and upgrades childishly safe. Now stop being a nervous nellie and finish removing that bolt!”
Roemer was a 19 year old quantum physics prodigy who’d been recruited straight out of Cal Tech by FORCE. It was lucky for Heinbaum that Miguel had inherited his mother’s patience. His father’s fiery reaction to Heinbaum’s demands would have been a quick fist to the jaw.
Heinbaum was an Astro-Physicist from Harvard University and a leading theoretical scientist on the unified field postulated by Einstein. A member of the original group tasked by the Pentagon to develop technologies to defend Earth from the invading Chrysallaman Empire, he had become the recognized expert on Chrysallaman energy technology.
As Roemer twisted his hex wrench once, more the bolt came free, and Heinbaum cackled with delight. Looking over the railing of the manlift, he demanded, “McPherson! Don’t just stand there gawking. Move the overhead crane into position. I don’t have all day!”
Captain Jerome McPherson was a tall, very white-skinned man with flaming red hair and a physique resembling a grizzly bear. One of the original members of the FORCE team, McPherson had proven himself to be an expert at reverse engineering Chrysallaman weaponry. It had been his discovery of the effect of magnetic fields on the alien power modules that had led to the breakthrough discovery of the Heinbaum Kinetic Generator. The McPherson Atomizer or MA ray was named for him.
A wide, toothy grin broke out under the bushy red mustache McPherson barely kept groomed and a thundering voice with a Scottish accent replied, “Now Doc, don’t get your boxers all in a wad. Just relax little guy.”
With those words, McPherson shook the manlift scissor beam supports, and Heinbaum and Roemer grabbed the basket railings for fear they’d topple out.
“Cease your inane attempts at levity and do as you’re told!” Heinbaum bellowed as he clutched the railing.
Shaking his head at the familiar blustering of the egotistical Heinbaum, McPherson walked to the controls of the overhead crane and rolled the hoist trolley along its track into position above the gravity-drive sphere. Heinbaum and Roemer wrapped the canvas belts they’d devised around the glassy orb and signaled for the hoist to lift the module off the fusion reactor.
McPherson gently raised the hoist until the canvas belts were taut. He continued raising it and grinned with satisfaction as the gravity-drive unit lifted free from its perch. As the module rose above the top of the reactor, Roemer grabbed the power cable dangling from the bottom of the unit and detached it from the reactor with a twisting/pulling movement. Sliding the overhead crane away from the reactor containment structure, McPherson lowered the module onto a wheeled cart. Heinbaum and Roemer powered the manlift to deck level, clamored from the cage and transported the unit to the laboratory.