NaNoWriMo, Fling Thirteen

“You’re Makato? Yeah, great, I’m Steve, we’re right on time, I appreciate that.

“Here, you can help me and Franz get the rig down off the back of the truck — careful! Just hold that right there, then over onto the roller platform, okay, keep in line with Franz, be careful nothing bumps it…

“Nice and easy, okay ease off on my three…

“One… two…


“Okay, great, that’s perfect, all right, nice, nice.

“This is actually one of the most dangerous and stressful times in a rig meet, y’know? You can put that in your vlog or stream or whatever. It’s a joke kind of, I mean being out on the run with the desert trying to slide out from under you at 300 em pee aitch is dangerous and stressful, too. And also awesome.

“But when you’re in that position, what you did in this part makes a big difference.

“Speed and stability of a rig are all about how well it was tuned, and since there’s no way to keep one in tune for long at all, you have to do a last adjustment just before you load it up, and then any big thump or drop in the loading or unloading can detune it again, and you miss the meet or you run a badly-tuned rig, neither one is good, y’know?

“Oh, yeah, we can definitely get to 300 em pee aitch and above; with the effect, there’s basically no friction, and we can accelerate theoretically at 1G, which would be zero to sixty in like three seconds, which isn’t that great, but we can keep accelerating, to 120 in six seconds, 240 in twelve seconds, etcetera, just as fast as falling in a vacuum.

“Now we don’t for real get 1 gee at all, but half or three-quarters is no problem, so —

“Why 1 gee? Oh right, we should talk about the Effect itself some, I guess? There’s still a little time before I want to go out, although I gotta talk to my crew, well my friends who came up, eventually, but I’m good for now.

“I’m not a quantum physicist, so I’m not gonna try to explain the Denormalized Casimir Effect to you in math, because I can’t, but what it does is pretty simple: the effectors under the rig here act against the mass of the Earth, and once we turn it on the rig can appear to hover off the ground as long as the ring of effectors stays flat.

“Yeah, I say ‘appear to hover’ because that’s what they say online, y’know, that it’s not really hovering like an old-fashioned ground effect craft, it’s quantum bazqux something something instead. So: appears.

“Anyway, then if the operator tips it in one direction, it’ll start to accelerate in that direction, like forward if it you tilt it forward, and then if it’s already moving and it tips to the side, it’ll feel a force that way, and that’s how you turn, or slow down. Stopping is hard haha. And there’s like a gyroscope here in the center that also rotates the rig when you tilt; so you’re, I mean so the operator’s, always pointed pretty much the way you’re moving.

“Theoretically, like I said, the amount of acceleration should be the absolute value of the gravity that the rig is feeling, but to get close to that — oh, hi, Kris!

“Kris, this is Makato, from that — right, the podcast thing — Makato this is my friend Kristen — What did –? Okay, more than a friend, sheesh haha — yeah, Kristen, Makato; Makato, Kristen — great, see ya later babe, I’ll bring them to talk to everyone in a bit —

“Sorry about that — oh, good, okay — anyway, to get acceleration closer to 1G you need to feed it like exponentially more energy — yeah, literally exponentially, at least once you get much over half a G, so a lot — and the rig already eats up energy like a —

“Oh, yeah, they’re powered by energy cells, these, electrospun nanofibers soaked in fuel — very high energy density, yeah, the legal ones can only — that is, heh, the energy cells don’t give the rig much of a range at all, they eat them up like candy; I’ve heard you can get ones with 5x or more the energy density from sources outside the country, but they’re not legal for civilian use so — obviously I’ve never used one of those, heh.

“Be kinda careful what you say about that in the public thing, right? Gah. But anyway the fuel cells are a big part of the cost of the, y’know, the hobby, the rig, the hardware itself is cheaper than you’d think, you don’t need your own particle accellerator or anything.

“Um, so yeah. The Effect is like the biggest physics thing of the century, and it’s been about to revolutionize culture and society and stuff for four years now, but the engineering is still fiddly as fuck, and the energy cost is still crazy, so the main thing it’s used for far as I know is for thesis topics and for a few nutcases like us, well a few hundred or thousand if you look at the whole world, strapping ourselves into rigs to fly around three feet off the desert at 300 em pee aitch just because it’s awesome.

“Haha, yeah, that’s my little speech, but it’s true, that’s why we’re all out here. Although different people would put it different ways.

“Me? Yeah, I got into it really early on, I had a roommate doing a Quantum Physics PhD, and he was very into it when CERN made their announcement of the Effect, and then CMU beat MIT to a working engineering model, and everyone was talking about starships and no-fuel cars and everything. I had one of the first real rigs, and was, haha, I guess a test pilot for the first experiments in going fast in the desert.

“Still no monetized applications, but I’ve been in love with it since that first run hit like 100. Whoo, that was a rush. I wasn’t supposed to go that fast, but this was before anyone realized how hard it is to accelerate at less than all-out, and so what was supposed to be a safe little run around this test track was WHOOOAAA! It was fantastic, like falling sideways, which actually it is, and I didn’t even get injured much.

“Noise? Oh, yeah, looks like Nando decided to take his out early, maybe circle around and wait for us, or just go off on his own. Noise of a rig starting up is kind of awesome, right?

“Oh yeah, no, meets aren’t about racing, really, people head out whenever they want to, although a few people always set up some time-trials or head-to-heads. It’s mostly about the rush, and about hanging out with other rig people, and also having a bunch of people out here so that if, haha, when someone takes a dive there are people around who will notice and make sure they’re okay and call 911 or whatever.

“Yeah, yeah it’s easy to get insurance as long as you don’t mind the rider that says they won’t pay for anything that happens on a day you rode a rig, haha.

“And the reason we have to charge for the meets is that we have to pay the emergency services to make up for intentionally putting ourselves at the likelihood of needing them.

“Hear that? That’s Nando out just beyond the dune there, running through some roughness in his tuning. He’s good, but not great; even odds he’ll be back scratching his head and cursing at his set soon. No one’s built a full shop out here at the meet site, so there’s not all that much real tuning you can do once you’re out here.

“So here’s the gang under the awning here; you met Franz and Kristen, and this is Ang and Sister Six. Yeah, ess eye ecs, you can interview her about that for a whole separate story, haha. And I should mention Colin back in town, he’s an honorary member of the team but can’t stand the dust and grit and stuff, he’s got a weak heart, some hormone thing, but he’s one of us; you might meet him after.

“Yeah, true. I’m Japanese-Mexican plus Irish-French, Kris is Southern Africa plus Northern Africa-Northern China, and Colin’s like twelfth generation White Anglo-Saxon. So we’re healthy and poor, and he’s rich and messed-up!

“Hey, don’t use that bit, right? I mean, he’s not messed up, just his body — anyway you don’t have to say that I said anything like that.

“Okay, I’m gonna leave you with the team here to talk about what a racist I am, and I’ll suit up and take the rig out. You have the link for the suit media? Great, I’ll like talk and narrate and make noise and stuff, and you’ll be able to hear the wind and any big dramatic crashes and explosions that might happen haha.

“Kris, come help me — thanks babe. You know I was kidding, no explosions. No big ones anyway! Can you pass me the — okay, I’m strapping in, powering up, sweet… See the appearance of hovering? Gonna close the helmet and switch to the media feed, one, two…”

“Okay, speaking to you from the suit’s media feed, you good? Got me? Okay, you should be able to hear the rig sort of humming under me, although since I always tune it good you won’t hear much.

“Now I need to aim carefully, ’cause like I said once it tips much at all, beyond what the stabilizers prevent, we’re off at 4 meters per second squared, and wheee! Didn’t hit anybody, haha.

“Aside from accelerating and turning, the one thing you can do is try to bring the rig back to flat level like, whaaa, yeah like this, so then we’re going at a basically constant speed, no friction, wooooha did you see that turn? Just sort of slewing around the dunes like…

“There’s nothing like it, I tell ya!

“I love the technical parts, and the craft of tuning and tinkering, but what it’s all about is this…

“Ahhhh! I’ll let you just listen to the wind and the sand skittering around for a bit, get you a nice meditative view through the helmet… ohhhhh yeah…

“Circling back around where you are a bit… I can slow down of course by tipping back, but again it’s going to be at about the same 4 em pee ess, so it’s easy to suddenly be going backwards, and the gyro whips you around like, oh here watch this —

“Woot! Like a roller coaster, or I guess a Snap the Whip, let’s do that again —

“Yahoo! Now some nice full bore to clear the mind, listen to that hum, baby!

“Now Kris is pushing the little Slow Down You Idiot button which is probably good because I know I can get kind of carried away out here. Did Nando get back to the center okay? Good, good —

“Here, watch this sort of spin-drift I can do if I cut down on the gyro a little… it’s like the flat here is gravity-warped so it’s like one of those bowls the bicycle racers go around in, faster and faster at a crazy slant, playing with up and down — wooo!

“Kris says sometimes I get a little drunk out here, like the rig and the speed and being so close to the ground is a drug, an experiential high and it really is — watch this… whoa!

“Sometimes I listen to music, old stuff, or Cordwave or Onetone, loud and clanging — ha OOO!

“But mostly I just groove with the sound of the wind, the hum of the rig, effectors purring, the gyro singing in the center…

“Do you feel that? No you can’t feel it, only I can feel it, I’m the only one here — haha I see you pushing the button —

“I wonder if there’s a little catch in the gyros — a bit more speed’ll shake that out — here we GOO!

“Listen to the hum!

“Ow, what?

“Didn’t like the sound of that…

“Oh, fu –“


Fling Fourteen

3 Responses to “NaNoWriMo, Fling Thirteen”

  1. True cliff hanger ending…..hope this arc continues again,sometime, somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person



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