|Summary:||Aboard the Iuppiter, a young man from Palisade is given his first taste of life without gravity.|
|Cast:||Ruin, Sandrim Oakleaf|
The cargo hold is a massive utilitarian affair, a wide cavern framed by the reinforced bulkheads and deck access plates. Above run several tracks for gantry cranes and transport equipment. High bay light fixtures march down the hold's length, while individually keyed conduit runs provide the only splash of color in this space.
This cargo bay has been semi-converted for use as a functional sparring and general exercise arena. Bars and rings, suitable for gymnastics and zero-gravity exercises, are affixed at varous points around the hold via high-powered magnetic clamps, allowing for their removal and storage when the hold must serve its primary purpose. Various pieces of the normal cargo-hold equipment have been stored with respect to their weight, allowing for them to be used in weight training exercises. Around the edge of the bay, a running mat has been laid down for jogging, and most of the central flooring has been overlaid with a sturdy mat, suitable for gymnastic work or combat training. Along the walls, ballistics targets have been set up to allow for marksmanship practice.
When all of this has been rolled up and stored away, the functional nature of the cargo bay is revealed. Tie downs and anchor pins line the entire space in a flexible grid, allowing all manner of cargo stored and secured. Hidden behind large access panels and equipment banks are cabinets of varied multi-purpose support equipment, to allow for a variety of transport environments. A large square loading platform is marked out on the deck, banded in black and yellow industrial striping and bordered by heavy duty hydraulic struts.
Ruin leads the way in, and as torture-chamber-esque as most gyms are, even they don't usually have bars and rungs on the walls and ceiling as well. "Okay," he says. "This is the crash course. Space is, basically, what you see at night. Every star in the sky is a sun, more or less like your own, tiny because it's so far away. And it's not flat, but three dimensional. Sidhe, negate gravity."
"Aye, serr," purrs the speakers, and soon enough the occupants can feel themselves getting lighter. "Gravity is a function of mass. The bigger the object, the greater the pull toward it. In the big spaces between stars, what you're feeling now is the norm." The Lunite pushes with his toes, 'flying' up toward the ceiling.
Letting out an eep as he tries to take a step, Sandrim starts floating through the air, uncontrolled. "I'm in the void again!" he calls out, eyes going wide.
"Sidhe, keep Cait with Sandrim for now," says Ruin to the air. "He's got a lot to learn." The Lunite moves easily through the air, using small pushes against the walls and ceiling, and hanging on to rings and bars when still. "When you're touching nothing, just floating, that's space, basically. You're now in the role of the ship, and your task is to move through space. Get from A to B. Think you can?"
"I don't have anything to push off of!" Sandrim yells Ruin's way, utterly confused. "Move /how/?"
The answer comes from Cait, bounding in - and *now* it's quite clear that cub has some quite large and sharp claws, because out they come to grip surfaces. He holds up ...two cans of compressed air. "These," he offers cheerfully, tossing them to Sandrim with mechanical precision.
Not that it helps much at first, at least. Sandrim just... /stares/ at the cans. "Um, thank you," he says, for the lack of anything else to say.
"Welcome to your thrusters," Ruin grins, from a position very much 'up' from Sandrim's perspective. "Left is port, right is starbord. Take one can in each hand. Experiment a little. Movement in space is a matter of action and reaction. Take one can in each hand, press the little buttons on the top to let air out."
Ruin nods, and bounds out again, returning with a few more cans. The cub demonstrates how to hold them, and press the tabs to force air out. Veeeeery gently (compressed air cans not having much thrust) the cub starts moving in the opposite direction from the can's pointed direction.
Rather uncertainly, Sandrim nods and lifts the port can, holding it up. "I don't see how this will... whoah!" The burst of air gets him going, slowly accelerating since he's holding down on it.
The engineer, of course, has no cans. But from one of his coat pockets he *does* produce a fair-sized rubber ball, and starts bouncing it off the walls. Every time he catches it, it moves him a bit through the air. "Be careful not to run out of fuel," he advises Sandrim. "After all, if you squeeze the button and nothing comes out...you're stuck."
Now /that/ is terrifying to Sandrim. The young man releases the button, letting himself continue to drift. "Mm... but... I'm not stopping," he notes. "I could just float to a wall and grab one of those bars, couldn't I?"
"Exactly!" chirps Cait. "Th' basic law is, ye'll keep movin' until some otherr forrce acts tae stop ye. When grravity's in effect, when ye'rre on a planet like, it's the grrravtiy's pull what stops ye. Otherrwise, ye just keep goin'." As, indeed, the cub is doing even with no jets of air. "Ye'll note I'm no' goin' as fast as yerrself. That's cos you used more air, an' we weigh aboot the same. So, ye used morre forrce, morre fuel, an' ye move fasterr."
Sandrim nods slowly, then looks down (relatively speaking) at Cait doubtfully as he loops an arm through a bar. "You... are tiny," he says.
Ruin laughs. "And me, the force I'm applying is my own muscles. And the force I use to throw this ball, reflected back when it bounces," as he sails easily by. "And don't judge Cait by his size. His bones are made of metal, and his insides are mostly metal too. He's a very solid little cat. I can carry him, but it takes doing. It's not *size* that matters. It's *mass* - weight."
Cait, for his part, continues to demonstrate relatively gentle movement - maneuvering in clear air solely through little puffs from the cans. A quite respectable figure eight.
"Right," Sandrim says, holding onto the wall a little bit longer before he pushes himself off at full force with his muscles, hurtling toward the opposite wall, "Too fast!"
"The force you use to propel you will keep propelling you until another force comes into play to stop you," Ruin agrees. "You really don't want that force to be too great, because these walls kind of hurt, as Rath could tell you. It takes practice to glide, maneuver, think in three dimensions and applied forces. But that's what you're learning, and that's what a starship pilot does. Just as you're moving yourself through this room, a pilot moves this whole vessel between stars, from planet to planet to station."
Sandrim clenches his eyes shut and puts both cans in front of himself, to try and slow his impact. It's successful, to a degree, but he hits the wall anyways. "Being a pilot hurts," he grumbles.
"Takes prractice," Cait agrees, 'touching down' much more gently with his own cans. "I'll keep ye frrae gettin' stuck, lad. We can rrefill these cans, tisnae prroblem. As long as ye need."
"The basic principles will help you understand the readouts on the navigational console better," Ruin nods. "In here, we can keep giving you cans of compressed air. Unfortunately, at the moment fuel for our ship is at a premium. When we run out, there might be no more. It'll take an experienced touch."
Sandrim quirks an eyebrow up at Cait. "You seem quite nice, but... you do talk strange." He turns to look at Ruin then. "What's this fuel?"
Cait wrinkles his pink nose at Sandrim. "Tis how they talk in Enaj, lad. An' a few otherr places." And the cub kicks off the wall, rolling through the air in a furry ball.
"See those cans?" asks Ruin. "When you press the button, something comes out, right? If you think about it, it's easy to guess that eventually the can will be empty. That you can press the button and nothing will come out." He pauses, then adds,"Like when you pour water out of a bucket. Eventually, the water's gone. Fuel's what you throw, to push you through space. More or less. I think we can leave the chemistry lesson for another day, really, as it's interesting but less than vital. Go ahead and keep using the cans to try and move around. You'll note that they feel different as they empty, even if you can't really see what comes out."
Sandrim nods before pushing away, letting the cans boost him through. "So, like food for the ship," he says. "ANd we need money to buy more. Have any ideas how you'll get any? Money, that is."
Ruin sighs, hooking a foot through a ring on the ceiling. "So far this whole station functions on barter rather than cash. We - that is, this ship - already traded our last ship for food and water for us here. So *we're* fine, at least for now. Bartering for ship fuel...we're still keeping our ears open. You may've noticed that your group aren't the only people finding their feet in this new environment."
Sandrim nods using the cans to change direction, heading toward what was once "down". "So... barter. I could see if my coins have any value, maybe that'll help us out. And any vegetables - I could offer to grow them. The ones who really seem to be in their element are people like that Hekayti person, though."
"Actually," Ruin muses, "If your coins are metal, better let me have them. The raw materials - I have tools in my runabout to make those coins into things that would have higher value. I am..." he pauses, thinking it over, then nods. "Blacksmith. That's the easiest. I'm a *really, really good* blacksmith. I can melt your coins down for all sorts of things."
Sandrim blinks at Ruin. "Uh, alright then," he says. "Sure, they're copper. I can pass them onto you, if you really want."
Ruin grins at that. "Copper?" he asks. "Really? *Good*. I can use that for all KINDS of things. Wonderfully conductive metal, copper."
Sandrim twists about in mid-air, using the cans to do such. "Is it?" he asks, as though not sure what that means.
Ruin laughs. "Don't worry about it. Or rather, if you want, I can ask Cait to teach you basic chemistry and electronics while you're bouncing around this cargo bay. I'm not really the best teacher if I can't demonstrate it, and setting up those lessons would be somewhat trickier."
Sandrim worries at his lower lip. "Er, okay," he says, before pausing to think of something. "Hey, is argentite conductive?"
Ruin blinks. "Argentite?" he asks. "Argent, silver...hm. You'd have to show me. Probably to some degree, but I'd really have to study it to say for sure."
Sandrim nods, frowning. "Well, if it comes down to it," he says as he propels himself to the door, "My armor is woven with argentite rings, quite a bit of it. Might be able to sell it."
"Oh...don't do that," says Ruin firmly. "Not as it is. We can probably do better for *armor* than ringmail. Whatever element your armor's made of, I can probably make more out of its metal in terms of trade value than it'd be in right now."
Sandrim blinks, and frowns. "Argentite is /really/ good metal though," he says. "Well... let me just show you. Lighter than any other! Except maybe seraphite." He reaches through, to open the door... and unfortunately tries passing into the next room upside down.
The "Don't do that!" from Ruin, alarmed enough to be distracted out of geekshiny, is probably a bit late. Walls hurt; gravity hurts, too.
Sandrim activates and then passes through the starboard hatch. Sandrim has left.
The hatchway's heavy panels part with a deep mechanized grumble, allowing access to the ship's main corridor.