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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 126: Kondor 84
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 125: Brown 43
It took nineteen days to enroll Kondor in his medical training. He counted them one at a time.
He opted to take some classes billed as refresher courses, seminars designed to recall a physician's training in areas less frequently encountered and bring them the latest information. He avoided those which would focus on what drugs to use, as he could neither take many of the medicines of this world with him nor make them wherever he next went. There was, of course, some of that in every class, but most provided ample information beyond it.
It was easier to do this now, as the secrecy surrounding the program had been significantly relaxed. Entry to the compound was still restricted, but now that it had been announced to the world that scientists working under the direction of Dr. Peter Breyer had developed a working artificial gravity generator considerably less effort was made to hide what was happening. Thus Kondor spent his time divided between the medical school and the lab.
At the lab, he was still involved in fine tuning gravity control. The notion of a tractor beam had been raised, and it presented new challenges for what was in essence a pulse system. How could you use pulses of gravity to create a continuous yet focused draw? This concept was so closely related to the matter of creating continuous gravity in an environment that the two projects were more joined than separate, and Kondor worked with both. They hoped to understand all the nuances of controlling what they had, particularly seeking to optimize the system to get the desired level of force at the lowest power output, but also to make it possible to adjust the gravity such that external forces could to some degree be countered. This involved adjusting the voltage, redesigning the circuits, altering the harmonics, and generally trying many combinations of inputs to measure the resultant outputs. It was in one sense dull work, yet in another it was the refinement of that basic knowledge. Kondor could now see a difference between building a gravity system and designing one. When they built one, they only needed to know what parts to put where; to design one, they needed to understand how it would be different were they to change those parts.
At the end of a month of medical study, the students were issued Certificates of Continuing Education, miniature degrees showing that they had completed these seminars and shown satisfactory understanding in the fields. Kondor brought these back to his quarters along with a catalogue of seminars for the next session. The certificates he placed with his degree; the catalogue he set on the bed to look at later. Then he headed to the lab to catch up on the latest developments there.
He realized he was hungry, so he took a side passage which led to the snack bar. There were other labs down here, including the accelerator, but he had not visited them since the degree ceremony. A hum, a very loud hum such as might be heard around a large power transformer, emanated from a door on his left, and being curious he looked inside.
It took a moment to absorb all that he saw. Here was a transformer and capacitor as large as an electrical substation. There was a linear projector array designed to create a striking force. Along the floor were super-cooled superconductive power cables. Half a dozen men wearing ear protection were working across the room at various control consoles. A cinderblock wall stood at the opposite end of the room. "What the," Kondor began, although even as he said it he recognized what it was–an artillery piece modeled after the popgun.
He never finished his sentence. Whether for some flaw in the manufacture or a failure in the design, the projector chose that moment to blow itself to bits. The concussive shock crushed the men into their computers, knocked out the overhead lights, and struck Kondor backwards, taking him and a good part of the wall across the hall, and he knew no more.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #122: Character Partings. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: