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Story Designers
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Thread: Designers

  1. #1
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    Designers

    Designers
    FMJ
    Chapter 1

    Comments and reviews are welcome.

    We always suspected that the machine would kill us all eventually. Some died quickly in falls or electrocutions; others were accidentally exposed to terrible energies that burned while they lingered in agony for days or weeks. After all, the science behind the machine was not completely understood. The Designers constantly changed the plan to reflect the latest thinking and added improvements to correct for errors that had only just been discovered. We had our own theories about how a design error was discovered; but since we agreed to work in secret with no contact with the outside world, our mood was dark. For years we have worked in what seemed to be an endless effort to provide a solution to an incomplete design. We knew that if we could see that the latest redesign to solve the current problem was not working, then the Designers could see it too. When they began to employ unconventional methods to solve problems, we began to lose faith in the completion of the project. But as Tennyson said, “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die,” so we persevere.
    As pure blind luck would have it, the Designers decided to secretly test one of their more radical solutions to the magnetic containment field problem when our whole crew was off the duty roster eating or sleeping.
    Last edited by FMJ; 04-17-2017 at 10:51 AM.

  2. #2
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    Even 41 kilometers away, the flash of the fireball caused injury to those unlucky enough to be topside and exposed. The shockwave that arrived a few minutes later announced with a sustained roar that the project had discovered a new design error.
    We had all expected to be leaving for reassignment to other projects that were still in construction phases, but no word came. The duty roster in the assembly hall was posted blank for two weeks as wild rumors made their rounds. A few actually thought; we, as a group, knew too much about the design and would never be allowed to leave. Others thought that some of the unconventional changes made to the design late in construction had caused such catastrophic damage that the entire project had been cancelled. Furthermore, it was being subjected to official inquiry and we were being detained here because we might be required to testify about our involvement.
    Three weeks later, we were all called to a meeting in the assembly hall to hear a Designer speak. We were afraid that the decision had finally been made to either reassign or dispose of us depending on which conspiracy theory camp you were in.
    But no axe fell. The Designer spoke at length about our commitment, our dedication to the project and our high quality of workmanship contributing to a new understanding of the concept as it was currently known. When he finished, we exchanged confused glances. In the front row, a hand was slowly raised to ask a question.
    “Yes? You have a question?” the Designer asked.

  3. #3
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    “Yes Sir. It’s just that we saw the explosion. We could only assume that the project had been destroyed and now we are hearing praise for our dedication and workmanship. I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
    “Ah yes, of course! An excellent question and directly to the point. I can understand why there is confusion but first let me say that you are correct. The explosion that you witnessed occurred at the instant of primary ignition within the containment. Except for the remains of the physical structure of the resonant magnetic mirror containment itself, all traces of the facility were completely vaporized. Within a radius of 3 kilometers, the heat fused the surrounding surface into a perfectly smooth sheet of green glass. However, at this very moment, sitting within the remains of the magnetic mirror containment at the epicenter of all of that perfect destruction, sits a blindingly blue, spherical fusion ignition that is, for all intent and purpose, stable.”
    After this avalanche of incredible and contradictory information, the room fell eerily silent as men tried to digest the staggering implications of a stable fusion ignition; essentially a star, sitting uncontained upon the surface of the earth.
    Another hand rose, a little more quickly this time to ask a question of the designer.
    “Yes, what is your question?”
    “Sir, Is the project site hazardous? Is there dangerous radiation there?” asked the workman to nods from the group.

  4. #4
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    “No and no. We have continuously monitored the site since the primary ignition and found only normal background levels of radiation. Neutron radiation from the ignition itself only spikes within the last meter. Gentlemen, through this marvelous happy accident, we have been gifted with the first stable hydrogen fusor,” replied the Designer.
    “It now becomes our task…no; it now becomes our duty to understand this phenomenon so that we might be able to replicate it in the future, and preferably without the initial fanfare that this one exhibited,” the Designer continued to a few chuckles from the group.
    “This phase of the project may actually be more difficult than construction for some of you because we need to reconstruct the machine as it existed from memory at the time of the primary ignition. Unfortunately, those present at the ignition are permanently unavailable to assist us in these efforts,” the Designer added with a little black humor.
    “First, allow me to address an interesting concern through my access to the rumor mill. Probably important for some, no workmen are to be summarily discarded or disposed of due to their knowledge of the project,” he stated with a broad smile. “On the contrary, all workmen here are now vital to the success of this project. In fact, there have been some interesting changes in the scope of the developing pay schedule. All workmen on this project will be advanced 5 full pay grades retroactive for 3 weeks. In 7 days, a new duty roster will be posted here along with a new training schedule to acquaint you with the next phase of this project to be known as, the Approach Phase. Until then, I offer you gentlemen congratulations on a job well done and good afternoon to you,” the Designer concluded to a standing ovation from the group. We never saw him again.

  5. #5
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    Chapter 2

    For the next two years we worked as a team to carefully reconstruct our project on a vast green glass plain around the new stable hydrogen ignition fusor. Every detail that anyone could remember, every variation no matter how insignificant was brought to the table for evaluation. Some changes did not come to light until after the fabrication of certain components had begun and then someone else would remember a later change and that would require another reevaluation. We felt as though we were retracing the same steps we had taken prior to our own ill fated ignition accident, but Design seemed pleased with our progress. Eventually, the day came when we began to see familiar, though unconventional methods were being used to solve problems. These had been the cause of our loss of faith in the first place so we knew we were getting close.
    It was at this point that we suspected there must have been one or more identical projects to our own somewhere else paralleling our progress because Design would act as though victory was within their grasp. But, a few days later, Design would ask us to start over and reconsider details we already knew were solid for no good reason. In retrospect, the reason must have been that another parallel project had been destroyed and the search for the missing clue would begin anew.
    They must have been so sure of themselves, so confident in their interpretation of our design. They surely had such contempt for the intelligence of their own colleagues that they rushed in after only making what they believed were corrections to our faulty design parameters.

  6. #6
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    They thought they could sidestep the investigative process and arrive at their own stable fusor independently. They attempted to secretly initiate their own primary ignition. But it would have none of it; for at the instant of ignition, it took them all to vapor with a single breath from the heart of a star and left nothing behind.
    Towards the end of our third year in the Approach Phase of our project, Design was able to determine that strengthening the magnetic mirrors of the containment prior to primary ignition was directly responsible for the destruction of at least one parallel facility. It was their current belief that our containment when set at its minimum state had shattered at primary ignition into multiple geometric facets that expanded like the petals of a flower to thinly encompass the sphere while it consumed the available supplies of lithium, tritium and deuterium on site. After flashing away all that energy in the fireball, it collapsed down to the last stable diameter where the outflow of energy balanced the weak gravity of the plasma sphere aided by the inward compression of the magnetic mirror containment.
    We choose to call it Approach and it remains the single such device of its kind on the planet. The deuterium fuel it requires is readily available in ordinary ground water in concentrations that are conservatively estimated to be inexhaustible. The tritium fuel, although a relatively rare isotope of hydrogen, can be bred from abundant lithium during the fusion reaction. Even though our stable fusor is now housed within a new highly automated facility designed to collect and utilize the enormous energy output of the ignition and provide it with deuterium fuel, the magnetic mirror containment surrounding the fusor is the original device and remains unchanged.

    As a virtually inexhaustible source of energy in an autonomous facility; Approach has the potential to be an extremely long lived entity. Barring unforeseen difficulties or a cataclysm of unprecedented magnitude, Approach should continue to function nominally for one hundred and fifty years…or longer, perhaps far longer.

  7. #7
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    The Yellow Vestments
    FMJ

    As the small group of men moved single file to the Access Portal clad head to toe in bright yellow garments signifying their faith and station; the Controller stopped and raised his hands wide in supplication bowing his head as he intoned, “Let the record show that in this, the one thousand, one hundred and forty third rotation of the annual Approach unto Fusion; no detail of the Holy Writ has been overlooked.” They walked forward again solemnly stopping at each of the three stations of the trefoil with heads bowed and gloved hands clasped before them to repeat the catechism of their training, “DURATION, DISTANCE, and SHIELDS,” to finally stand in a straight line before the polished stainless steel portal. The Controller raised his hands once again saying, “Every man has been selected, trained in every aspect of his duty and his name added unto the Holy Writ. We, the chosen, have ordered our minds and anointed ourselves in preparation for the Approach unto Fusion. Hear our plea!”
    The Controller walked to stand on a raised dais before the Access Portal alone as a scanner identified him and granted his access by extending a ramp from the dais and opening the Portal. One by one, each man approached, was identified and granted access through the Portal into the inner sanctum of the old fusion reactor.
    Once inside, the Controller cautioned his acolytes to carefully perform their duties while maintaining a respectful silence within Fusion.

  8. #8
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    “Hear my words! Remember the catechism of “DISTANCE”. Deadly energy lies close to each of your appointed tasks. Touch ye not anything in which ye are not trained lest ye be killed for your transgression!”
    The Controller left them then and turned to walk to another portal placing a gloved hand on a green activation plate causing the mechanism to quietly unclamp. The magnetic lock released the heavy door that swung open on silent hinges to admit him then sighed shut as he passed through. After a year of absence, he surveyed the interior of the now familiar room to make certain that nothing was out of place. He removed the key on the gold chain from around his neck and inserted it into a red colored slot next to a row of indicators. As he slowly turned the key, the indicators illuminated in various colors indicating the current status of Fusion in the areas that his acolytes were performing their assigned duties. As he watched, an indicator next to the nameplate inscribed with the word “LITHIUM” changed color from yellow to green as his acolyte opened valves and pressed studs to complete the task. He smiled as he looked at the indicator next to the word “DEUTERIUM” that had never changed from its reassuring green color in the years that he had been blessed to Approach Fusion. Only once had the indicator next to the word “TRITIUM” changed to the yellow color of their vestments but it quickly changed back to the correct green after they had correctly performed their duties to the satisfaction of Approach. Other indicators next to the words “AIR”, “WATER” and “HELIUM” had always been green but a great deal of information was contained in the Holy Writ if they ever were to change to yellow. A significant portion of the catechism of Approach dealt with the yellow color of the clothing of their station and its relationship with the status of Fusion. The yellow indicators of status during the Approach were interpreted by the Holy Writ as none other than a direct request by Fusion for their attention.

  9. #9
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    According to the records of the Holy Writ, during the last eleven hundred and forty-three rotations, no acolyte had ever failed to perform his duty. To this end, color coded lines were painted on the floor for each acolyte to follow to his assigned duty station with color coded controls that exactly matched those in the training simulators at the Chapel. A misunderstood direction was practically impossible, but not unheard of. The acolytes performed their duties in the Chapel first to the satisfaction of the approach Controller before they were ever allowed to participate in an actual Approach of Fusion.
    Another yellow indicator winked and became green as an acolyte completed his assigned duty minutely adjusting the angle of the magnetic mirrors of the field containment surrounding Fusion to its complete satisfaction. A row of green indicators next to a nameplate inscribed with the word “OUTPUT” immediately rose three lights to rest squarely in the center of a nameplate above the row inscribed with the word “NOMINAL” as it should. His acolytes were performing well and they would finish this Approach well within the “DURATION” portion of the catechism of the Holy Writ once again this Approach. He was proud of their efforts and pleased that their accomplishments brought them the highly coveted status of Approach Acolyte within their communities. No other distinction indicated a higher level of dependability amongst their peers and would guarantee them places of importance in the future. The Acolytes of the Chosen trained for an entire year to be allowed one Approach to Fusion in their lives as it is stated from the beginning within the Holy Writ.

  10. #10
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    One by one, the Acolytes complete their duties and return to the inner sanctum to stand in a circle with heads bowed in silence as they have been instructed.
    The Approach complete, the Controller ends the sequence by removing the key from the red colored slot and placing the gold chain around his neck. With a sigh, he surveys the interior of the control room and verifies that once again nothing is out of place. He palmed the door activation plate with a gloved hand to rejoin the quiet circle of men standing with heads bowed and hands clasped before them. As he joins the circle he intones, “Let the record show that in this, the one thousand, one hundred and forty third rotation of the annual Approach unto Fusion; no detail of the Holy Writ has been overlooked.”
    The Controller removed the gold chain from his neck and inserted the key into a gold slot in the wall of the inner sanctum as he intoned, “Acolytes! Behold Fusion!” As they lifted their heads in unison, one wall of the room slowly rolled aside to bathe the inner sanctum and all who stood within it in the blinding blue glare of light from a boiling sphere of incandescent fusing hydrogen just beyond the magnetic mirrored wall of the inner sanctum. The Acolytes fell to their knees and covered their eyes with their hands as the Controller removed the key and the protective wall rolled back into place. “SHIELDS,” the Controller intoned as he opened his eyes and the Acolytes rose from the floor to stand in a circle in submissive silence. One by one, the Acolytes walked to the Access Portal, were scanned, identified and allowed egress followed finally by the Controller who stood briefly on the dais as the ramp retracted.
    “Tomorrow”, he thought, “I will begin to train the new Chosen for the one thousand, one hundred and forty-fourth rotation of the Approach to Fusion. Amen.”

  11. #11
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    Hello? Hello, is this on? Hmph . . . tough room.

  12. #12
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    MFJ,

    Reading your story, just waiting to see where it goes....

  13. #13
    Totally reminds me of old school SF, keep up the good work.

  14. #14
    Not so tough just hard to let you know we are reading and liking your stories. Keep up the good work.

  15. #15
    Fmj Thank you for the story, I hope you will continue with it.

    Wayne

  16. #16
    great story..........all of them

  17. #17
    I too like all of your stories. It is a throw back to when there was science in science fiction!

  18. #18
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    Nice, thank you!
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  19. #19
    Just read from the beginning to here. Looking good! It's hard to read this one and not to draw analogies considering how people sometimes treat science as religion and religion as science.

    FMJ, have you ever read anything by Ed Howdershelt? He's been one of my favorite authors over the years and your writing style is similar to his sifi stuff.
    Last edited by Sportsman; 07-27-2017 at 05:19 PM. Reason: speal-cheaker mistake

  20. #20
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    10

    Quote Originally Posted by Sportsman View Post
    It's hard to read this one and not to draw analogies considering how people sometimes treat science as religion and religion as science.
    Exactly! You saw it! That was the point!

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