This is the public log of DeeDee 'dzyjak' Jackson, a fictional character. DeeDee lives and works aboard a space station which orbits Saturn, and sometimes he writes about it.


Fire and Ice

As I write this, the initial flash cut is burning furiously. In about five hours we set off the charges which will literally blow the two halves of Fort Falling apart. One half will get kicked away from Saturn initially, but will eventually crash into the ring plane. On the other half, we will ride the initial explosions and flaming ice-boosters into a tighter, more sustainable orbit.

I'm trying very hard not to freak.

I spent the last three days checking cat trees (a.k.a. cat traps), and rounded up a dozen more cats. None of them were happy to see me, but without weight (or a magnetic symbiote) they couldn't get away from me. I transferred all twelve of the wildest felines I've ever met to a large cat-tree living in one of the converted launch platforms. I suspect availability, opportunity, and weightlessness three times every day will encourage symbiotic relationships.

It's spreading. Kelly wants me to take care of her two 'domestic' cats for a couple of weeks while she gets fitted with a symbiote. I agreed to do so before her stated intentions caught up with my brain. Since it isn't my business, I kept my mouth shut. No matter how scatter-brained she seems at times, Kelly wouldn't agree to something unless she understood completely.

Apparently Counter-Spin has a symbiote and a specialized vac-suit already. He sent us pictures of himself standing on one of his new slush bombs, and there were half a dozen of Doc's ice-pods scattered around. Each one of those pods contains a tiny ecosystem with bugs and rodents.... like we need more of those around. I'm afraid to ask why Rick is planting them on a ball of slush he intends to crash into an OSA troopship.

Paula wants me to get one of those symbiote things too. I told her I would rather we survived the next two months before making friends with the local space-flu.


Skating on Air

If you think it involves wearing blades on your feet and using them to propel yourself as fast as you can against the direction of spin, then you got it in one. Spin weight is about 0.1 now. This is just enough to be annoying without being useful, but about right for EMF Eddie's crazy new game.

He came by my ship with ice-skates, and dumped them next to my sleep harness where I wasn't sleeping. Paula must have let him in.

"Let's go," Eddie said.

"Where?" I asked, looking at the skates suspiciously.

"Frozen Alpha One," Eddie said unhelpfully. That's what we called the entire level below the soon-to-be-not Tangent Track. The place was covered in ice, which explained the skates. "I'll spot you 100 meters."

"I'm not putting those things on," I said, attempting to settle in my sleep harness with almost no weight to settle.

"150 meters."

"For what?"

"The tangent."

"Go away, Eddie. I'm depressed today, and I like it that way."

"Not a chance. Right now is the only opportunity I will ever have to beat you at Skating for the Tangent."

"You're crazy. Go away."

"Are you forfeiting the game? I was hoping for a challenge."

"Forfeit?" I grumbled, stiffening. "I didn't agree to play your silly game."

"Off course you did," Eddie said cheerfully. "If I remember correctly, your complaint went something like this: 'I would do anything to get away from these tedious zero-gee exercises for just one day.'"

He did a horrible impression of me, but I guess I had said something like that while running a stupid treadmill the other day.

"Fine," I said, struggling out of the harness. "But you agreed to spot me."

"Do you want that all on the first run, or spread out over multiple races?" Eddie asked with a grin.

He beat me seven out of twelve in Tangent Skating, but I beat him five out of six racing the other direction. We are already scanning the station designs to find a place for our new skating track.


Ceres Rising

The OSA tried to kidnap my parents right out of Ceres Station. I am very very very upset about this, but I can't take it personally. A large number of people living in Fort Falling have family on Ceres Metro, and the OSA claims they need protection.

Fortunately, someone smarter and wiser than I am saw it coming. My dad says they got advance word from one of the Ceres mining facilities, and every known OSA operative in the area has been arrested and exiled under threat of vacuum.

The Alliance mouth-piece has been screaming foul and threatening trade sanctions for the last couple of hours. They must have sent all available troop ships to Saturn System, and I'm thinking that's not real smart for someone who intends to kidnap hundreds of people on Ceres Metro. Jupiter System has already sent relief supplies to Ceres--escorted by a friendly diplomat with broad discretionary powers.

The petition to ally ourselves with Jupiter System has already been signed by most of the people living here. It has been crazy busy. Station gravity is less than useless now--but it will be another 10 days before we blow Fort Falling in half and start burn for a stable orbit. Zero-Gee exercises suck.


Slush Bomb

The Dizzy Pig Bar and Grill serves a great Slush Bomb. It's cold, and has alcohol. Counter-Spin Rick isn't talking about drinks. The Slush Bomb is named after an accepted ice mining practice.

For the record, I didn't know any of this until One Track's chimp-snicker encouraged me to look into it.

A slush bomb is a generic term for a man made ball of slush, (mixed water and water-ice for you geniuses) usually very large, and always under acceleration. Acceleration is the 'bomb' part. Ice busters are good at making slush bombs, but it's easier and cheaper to bring in the big chunks of ice, so they don't do it often.

Why? Liquid water doesn't last long in vacuum. It goes from ice to vapor almost instantly. To make a slush bomb, a heat source (usually clean burning fuel) is injected into the center of the ice, so it only melts on the inside. Any water leaking out would freeze shut the leak.

The idea is to maintain a core liquid temperature while the slush ball is moving and growing (smashing into smaller chucks of ice, cracking open, leaking water, freezing together). Surprisingly, ice boosters are designed to do this.

Now--give Counter-Spin and his ice buster friends an excuse to aim one or more slush bombs at an OSA troopship. Rick is positive he can bury the ships in ice without fatalities, but he says if OSA is sending troops, it ain't with flowers. Either way, if it works, we will be adding rescue duties to our unpacking of boxes.


One Track

Joe's rail conversion is finished. We can start using it after the flash-cut and initial burn to get us away from the condemned half of the station. Station gravity is down to about 0.8 Gees, and will be nearly useless in another two weeks.

The OSA has decided to make an issue out of our 'suicidal independence.' It would be funny if the timing weren't so suspect. They know we've shut off the mag-gyros, and the station will be a lot easier to board by force when it's not rotating. They will be in system about the time we have reached our new orbit, if it goes that far.

When we sent Counter-Spin Rick the daily update, he grinned like a psycho and said, "I'll take care of it." I'm afraid to ask what he has planned, but I'm fairly certain those ice-boosters he has been planting in lower orbit are part of it. Also, an unusual number of ice-miners are out 'prospecting.'

I mentioned Rick's statement and my suspicions to Kelly.

She gave me a bright smile and asked, "How does one take the measure of a man? From the length of his life? Or from the size of his accomplishments? Better to measure the joy he finds in living, don't you think?"

Which was probably a very profound thing to say, because I still don't get it. Rick's version of joy involves a lot more danger than mine--and something called a 'slush bomb.'

And how many chimpanzees are living on this space station anyway? The one living with Kelly is called "One Track," and he finds slush bombs quite funny. Kelly beams happily as she explains how hard it is to get him to change directions once he makes up his mind.

Finally--what is it about my forehead that Kelly always has to kiss it before I can take my confusion and go home?


Thoughts of the Submind

This, apparently, is what they call themselves. "Submind," for short.

    "They" being:
  1. A sentient virus
  2. billions of years old
  3. with a 'non-interference' policy
  4. who created a perfect host 'species' for themselves
  5. which turned out to be too perfect.

Doc says they don't even become truly sentient until the virus population reaches a certain critical mass. The host spores, being designed to breed by dividing in two, never get big enough for the inhabiting virus to 'wake up' unless the host is also supporting a much larger life form. (That must be where the 'too perfect' comes in.)

They need us. They need humans, cats, and chimpanzees (and mice and rats and bugs I suppose) to become more than floating spores. I'm still not sure how I feel about giant ice-vines and mice infested cat trees, so I'll have to let you know about the virus thing later.