Moving Sideways

To review, we have already considered the first type of psychokinetic manipulation: the extrinsic manipulation of objects. While largely instinctive in use – unlike the extensive families of techniques built on top of them – reproducing these effects was relatively simple and produced the unifield vector effector, the enabling technology behind the modern tractor, pressor, and torquor beams.

The second type of psychokinesis is the intrinsic manipulation of one’s self. While more difficult to master, most people do acquire proficiency with the basic component effects of in this area, which together form the heart of psychokinetic freerunning: the rejump, in which one bends momentum in mid-air to adjust one’s trajectory and/or velocity; and the longstep, in which one uses a high-intensity pulse of mass-reduction to achieve a burst of speed, appearing to cross a room or otherwise reposition oneself in an instant.

(Body-flying is not considered part of this type, inasmuch as it is impossible to lift oneself, and it depends on extrinsic manipulation of fixed or high-mass objects.)

Work on technological reproduction of these effects led up to the development of the modern vector-control core for vehicles, from skimmers to starships.

The path of inspiration leading from rejump to core is relatively straightforward, as obvious parallels can be seen in the integration of the vector-control core with attitude control systems.

Developments from the longstep are, however, somewhat more obscured. While the work of the Precursors was readily able to support such operations on a single-person scale, it proved impossible for many centuries to build a vector-control core capable of spike operation. However, the traditional vector-control core mode is based on what is, in effect, a low-energy continuous longstep which provides lesser thrust enhancement on an ongoing basis.

This state of affairs persisted until the late 7900s, with the release of Shue Lezíär’s hypertoroid drive core. Fed by a double ring of chained flash accumulators, the hypertoroid core is capable of spiking to power levels orders of magnitude greater than standard cores for brief moments. Timed with exquisite precision to match firings of attitude-control thrusters or even main drives, a vehicle – even the largest of starships – equipped with such a core can appear to blink from one position to another in a matter of moments: a true longstep.

– Histories and Parallels in Vector Control Development

Darkness Within (21): On the Drift

Z plus four seconds

Mind-state transmission received: 3.301229 exp 16 octets validated.
Identity confirmed: Isif Alclair-ith-Alclair [UCID and mindprint match].

Dynamic mind-state analysis confirms mental integrity.
Cannot contact Am-I-Me service [no endpoint].
Cannot contact Identity Tribunal (proxy) [no endpoint].
Cannot contact incarnation insurance provider (proxy) [no endpoint].
Identity assumed pending verification under emergency protocol.

Noetic reinstantion complete; initiating corporal teleoperation.

That’s it, then. All is ready. Time to go. I enable full connection with the router, and the candle’s controls blossom in my mind’s eye.

One last glance around. The lights in the bay are dimming to as my script runs the shutdown-safe sequence, leaving nothing but the emergency protonic inserts. The remaining nodes on the ship’s mesh execute orderly terminations and wink out, one by one. The spacetight doors remain shut, but I’m heading out the fractured end – most of the floating debris was cleared in my rebuilding efforts.

I think again of the scuttling charges, but there are no secrets to protect in this fragment of a ship, except those I’m taking with me.

I feed a trickle of hydrogen to my thrusters, start myself gliding forward at safe-in-dock speed.

Farewell, Gutpunch! Thank you for my life.

Z plus three minutes

Here’s the plan.

I have approximately 48 hours of breath remaining, if I stay calm and breathe shallow. That’s more than I need to get near enough to the stargate to be rescued, but not by all that much. If I can find that vector-control core from the cutter. If I can’t, I have to work with the native delta-v I have, and it will be even more important to set off early because I’ll barely be able to get inside the search cube.

So I’m giving myself three hours from now. Pointing the spotter backwards tells me I’m now a good mile clear of the hulk. The way the hull fractured tells me that Gutpunch was struck from ventral, portside, and for’ard and recalling the camera images from first waking and doing some crude plots on the after-section debris, it seems to have drifted mostly aft-relative – probably venting tanks added some thrust in that direction – with relatively small starboard and dorsal components. It also looks to have developed a Y-spin. (I’m keeping the hulk’s orientation as an inertial reference, for now.)

With the auxiliary battery room up front, if the reactors scrammed – and the reactors must have scrammed – and the aft section spinning like that, it’s very unlikely the aft half of the cutter could have stayed in the hangar. The tie-downs would have almost certainly snapped.

So assume that. Assume it got flung out, and flung out at the moment of greatest stress. That would be on the first spin when there was also thrust to take into account, which should put the cutter somewhere relatively close to the aft section, but further starboard-dorsal relative to the hulk.

I should be able to find the aft section easily enough with the spotter; it’ll be the biggest object within its range. Then all I have to do is scan the space near it along the right sector for something with the right proportions to be cutter-hull, and that should have my core in it.

If it doesn’t – well, it’s the highest-probability option. If nothing shows after two hours, I’ll continue scanning on the way to the aft section, just in case the tie-downs held. If that doesn’t pan out, I abort to plan B. Not enough time to check any other options.

And I’ll get to it.