The Omicron Matter – A Practice Voyage – Into Orbit


A new entry in the Omicron Matter – A Practice Voyage. After of weeks of training and refitting, the teams are now ready to test flying the ships and using the Omicron devices. Even with the images of Ceres and Triton, the team knows they will be seeing something unlike anything they might imagine.  Eleanor will get to pilot a ship that has no propellers, gas chambers or oven machinery as she understand.

For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.

Author’s Note

This begins a long chapter in which our team will be touring the solar system.  Things happen – especially over on Smith’s ship, but they experience travel in space and with the devices. There are lot of edits on this and I have been very busy at work. So I am very late in posting.

Look for more on Monday. Thanks for your support.

Into Orbit

Charles Bridge’– Eleanor

Eleanor Woodson sat in a comfortable chair with a panel of information and controls in front of her. Millicent would be flying this trip, but Eleanor had studied and practiced enough that she could run the ship if Millicent chose not to or wasn’t available. There were several stations on the bridge. She, Jason, John, Michael and Felicity had spent weeks studying controls, reading data, and learning new tools.  Eleanor’s station showed speed, acceleration, direction and it included a navigation panel. She spent her studying hours working with Charles to understand the intricacies of traveling in space. After she felt a bit comfortable, Charles popped her bubble by saying, “All of this may be moot given how those devices work.”  There were controls for maneuvering in the conventional sense: forward, back, up, down, right, left. However, she could use them in combination for interesting effects.  Strong forward, with equal portions of up and right, would force the ship into spin along the forward vector.  A light forward touch with in one direction caused the ship to execute a loop. She asked about pulling back and Charles simple asked, “How do you expect to pull away from something?” She didn’t understand the question enough to know to how answer.

Millicent sat down next to Eleanor. Millicent no longer wore long dresses and bodices.  She was in a tight fitted body suit.  Her hair was in braid that ran down her back.  Millicent had said that clothes needed to be practical and required changes for everyone. Eleanor opted for a more modest set of pants, blouse and tunic jacket. The others were dressed in a similar fashion.   Eleanor’s hair, unruly as always, was simply parted in the middle and came down the sides. Millicent asked, “Is the pre-flight checklist done?”

Eleanor looked at the list on her console and said, “Navigation systems and position controls are working within parameters. Simone and Rachael report the Omicron devices are set and ready to function.”

Millicent nodded, “Thank you Miss Woodson. Mr.O’Malley, status of the engines?”

John said in a sharp deck voice, “Full load of water. Engine systems are responding within parameters. “

Millicent nodded again and said, “Excellent, Mr. O’Malley. Mr. Richards, ship operations?”

Michael stammered a bit as he said, “We secured quarters last night.”

Charles muttered quietly, “We’ll see about that.”

Millicent waved a hand at Michael to continue and he did, “The pool is covered, secured and attached to ships cooling. Heating systems, air recirculation, water recirculation and other environmental systems are operating at optimal settings.” Eleanor knew he had studied hard to understand the environmental controls. Much of his early work, like everyone else’s, had been focused on understanding why a feature such as heating or air recycling was necessary to survive.  After that, he worked with Charles to understand how to control and respond to issues.  And, like everyone else, he could probably function fine if nothing went wrong.

Millicent looked at Felicity and asked, “Mrs. Richards, do we have active communications with Mr. Smith and Camille?”

Felicity’s head had a covering and devices fed into her ears. She worked some dials and said, “Smith Ship, please report communication status.” After a moment, Felicity reported, “Miss Stanhope says that we are coming in loud and clear.” Eleanor had a small smile knowing that Winifred Stanhope had to be polite Felicity Richards.

Millicent looked at Jason and asked, “Observation Station, Mr. McNeill?”

Jason said, “Sensors are currently fully functional. We have 305 rats in the warehouse. Two drunks passed by but are moving on to Eagle Wharf road.”

Millicent raised an eyebrow and asked, “You knew they were drunk?”

Jason said, “I practiced some gas analysis and found alcohol on their breath.”

Charles said, “The badly sung ballad and weaving pattern might have been more a more efficient method of diagnosis.”

Millicent looked around then and said, “Well then, Miss Woodson, we are ready. I will take us out of London. You will get your chance later.”

Eleanor was simultaneously relieved and disappointed. Millicent had the experience to maneuver the ship well around structures and crashing into St. Paul’s or the Clock Tower would make an unwanted scene.  But the idea of leaving London faster than any airship or train in existence was something to be excited about.  Eleanor held her face neutral and said, “Opening warehouse roof.” In reality, she was relaying the command to Charles who then operated the winches to move the roof open.  As she understood the systems of the ship and the warehouse, Charles could do just about everything but decide where to go. Eleanor asked Millicent, “Liam and Betsy are clear?”

Charles answered for the quiet Millicent by saying, “Mr. O’Hannigan said he thought he would be of little use and that his time would be better spent getting a few more fares.  He and Betsy are currently in the queue at Euston Station.”

Millicent said tightly, “Then we are free to go. Let’s give him something to chat to his fares about.” She looked at the console in front of her and then said, “Leave the running lights on but switch to stealth mode. There’ll be a few strange lights over London tonight. “She pressed the console and adjusted controls and said, “And beginning lift.”

The window at the head of the bridge was not really a window but a screen that could project the view in front of the ship. As the ship rose, the warehouse slipped by and then North West London was visible. Euston Station showed brightly was a bit less than a mile away – a bit more than a kilometer in the ship standard system. Far in the distance would be Dunstable.  Millicent moved the control sticks in her hand and the scene shifted as the ship rotated.  The Clock Tower and Parliament came into view and the ship was now facing South East. It was dark, but London’s gas lamps showed the irregular streets. The lights seemed to point to a thick black darkness that ran along the south marking the Thames.

Millicent moved the ship slowly at first and then turned off the running lights.  As the ship moved it gained elevation quickly.   Everyone on the bridge seemed transfixed as the city passed beneath them. At the river, Millicent guided the ship upward and altitude was gained quickly. Parliament were more than 3000 feet below and looked smaller than the models on Rachael’s clocks.

Jason called out “Airship 40 degrees to port.” He paused for a moment working the calculations that Millicent had been drilling them on for weeks, “750 meters below us. There is a second at 15 degrees to port and …850 meters below us.  Our current altitude is… 1200 meters and rising at 240 meters a minute.“  Eleanor stifled a smile as Jason struggled converting his understanding of measurement into the hated metric system.  If he just read the numbers and did not think about their meaning, he wouldn’t stumble.

Millicent replied, “Very good, Mr. McNeill. They will not be a concern to us. Miss Woodson, take controls.”

Eleanor took the controls and said, “I have the controls.”

Millicent said, “Miss Woodson, set a course 30 degrees West of North.  Continue a mild incline – %15 should do. ”  Eleanor moved the control sticks and watched the headings as she maneuvered the in a gentle bank as she had been taught in simulation.

After a couple of minutes, Eleanor said, “Course set.  She looked at the information on the panel and said, “Altitude now at 2000 meters. “

Millicent said, “Good, now double our speed and altitude gain.” She then turned to a speaking tube and said, “Make secure for orbital ascent and I mean secure.”

Eleanor listened as each person on the bridge acknowledged the command. Simone’s voice came back over the speaking tube, “Secure, finally in the engine room. There was a bit of bother with Rachael’s chair but we’re set.” Vague cursing could be heard in the background.

Millicent turned to Eleanor and said, “Let’s have a bit of fun, Miss Woodson. I’ll control the speed. You will control the direction.  Remember the simulations. Don’t over steer.” Eleanor nodded sharply and braced herself and gripped the controls, “Ready when you are, ma’am.”  Millicent moved some dials and Eleanor felt like Betsy was sitting on her chest. Eleanor watched the console and set the direction as steadily as she could manage. An image of the ship’s path was projected on the panel surrounded by green lines. Eleanor kept her hands steady so that the ship followed the green path.  John called out, “Engines at one third. Ground speed is 7.8 Kilometers per second” and his voice softened a bit said quietly, “several times the speed of a bullet.”

Millicent said tightly, “Mr. Richards, report on the planet.”

The acceleration eased and the horse that had been sitting on Eleanor’s chest disappeared. In fact, there was an odd vertigo sensation.  Michael reported, “Atmosphere is %70 nitrogen, 25% Oxygen and traces of other gases. We are currently heading south over …the eastern portion of Russia and heading over the Pacific.”

Millicent smiled and said, “I look forward to the place names you use with Triton. Miss Woodson, release controls and set for orbit.” She turned to the rest of the bridge and said, “I think we can enjoy an orbit or two while we wait for Mr. Smith. I expect we have ninety minutes or so before he can catch up with us.”

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One thought on “The Omicron Matter – A Practice Voyage – Into Orbit

  1. I’ve updated the text a bit. I rushed this out late on a Friday. The language is a bit cleaner now. Nit pickers can compare the chapter (not changed) and the blog (changed) to see what mistakes I caught.

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