Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright © 2010-2017, Karl Leffler
The Daring Enterprise
Who dares, wins.
27 March 2004
"Well, that, theoretically, is the first Marsten Drive," said Rachel Marsten, who now wore a revolver of her own, and was learning the shortsword from Ms. Bjolnir.
Vetter looked over Tallenbeck's and Marsten's work. "It's... gratifyingly small."
"Under eighty tons," said Tallenbeck. "Though of course this is only the prototype, the test article. Wine gets better with age, technology gets smaller."
"What about deployment?" Vetter asked.
"We can break it down into five sections," Tallenbeck answered: "The generator with its mounts and connections, forty-three tons; two focusing arrays, thirteen and a quarter tons each; and the collector nodes on each end, four and a half tons each. It is not a good idea to disassemble any component any further than that outside of a clean room, or at least hard vacuum."
"Two flights, then, to keep it discreet. Reassembly?"
Marsten answered, "Naturally the alignment of all parts is critical - in fact I don't feel this unit is safe to activate now, it should be assembled and calibrated in microgravity to begin with so it's just as well we'll be taking it apart to lift it."
"I see... well, the factories will be orbital anyway. Captain Gaines? Any thoughts?"
Nora Gaines was the best and most experienced transatmospheric pilot in the Vetter Aerospace fleet. "How fragile are these things?" she asked. "How much acceleration can they withstand without breaking, or bending, or whatever? What's the critical axis?"
"Actually we believe they'll be rather sturdy," said Tallenbeck.
"Yes," Marsten added, "the components are actually quite flexible and deform significantly in a gravity field when not assembled, which is why they should only be assembled and tested in free-fall."
Tallenbeck continued, "Naturlich, the rings of the focusing arrays should be arranged perpendicular to the primary axis of acceleration, and the axes of the collector nodes parallel with it, but they should be able to withstand any reasonable amount of lateral acceleration with no harm. Once assembled, the unit is quite rigid and tends to stay that way. I do not believe your vessel is capable of performing in a way that would significantly damage the disassembled components and especially the completed drive."
"I can reach twelve gravities," Gaines pointed out.
Tallenbeck and Marsten looked at each other. The engineer said, "The components should be safe at thirty or so, the assembled drive at fifty."
Marsten said, "Actually, when the drive is charged, I'm not certain it can be affected by gravity or acceleration as we know it... and when it's active, I'm pretty certain it can't be...."
Gaines' eyebrows rose at this, and she looked at Vetter as though to ask if they were serious. He nodded slowly. "Huh," she said. "Any chance of this thing acting or reacting in any way during flight?"
"No," said the engineer and physicist together. "It's quite dead now, and even deader when broken down," Marsten added.
"Ja, just some curious metal bits. Otherwise I would not feel comfortable standing here," said Tallenbeck. "We do not yet know how living organisms will react to the Marsten Field, though the simulations indicate it should be quite safe when properly adjusted. At least half a megawatt is required to make it do anything."
"Huh," Gaines repeated. "Well, I suppose we ought to load the big piece first, and come back for the rest tomorrow or the next day depending."
"Good," said Tallenbeck. "We can have it apart in an hour or so. The cargo receptacles are in Hangar Three waiting to receive the pieces, then we'll just swing it into your ship's bay, lock it down, and you'll be ready to go- ah, from our point of view at least," Tallenbeck clarified; one did not rush a pilot through a preflight checklist, especially with unique cargo aboard, "about three hours from now."
"I'll supervise all phases of loading," said Gaines.
"Of course," Vetter answered, nodding. "Any problem will be disposed of."
Gaines grinned at this. "Mr. Vetter," she said, "you got a way with words."
3 April 2004
Vetter addressed his inner circle in the main conference room of R&D Facility One. "Now that the drive is complete, we can proceed with Project Nineteen, building the ship to put it in. Hans?"
Vetter yielded the podium to Tallenbeck. "Dr. Marsten and I have determined that this will be the most appropriate design for the first starship. Roughly, it, like the Drive itself, is a truncated ‘cigar' shape. The good news is that the von Braun class ships we have been manufacturing for the last year are readily adaptable to this use, and our Heinlein and Texas class vessels can, without a great deal of difficulty, be likewise adapted. As you see on your displays, hull number 28 has been removed from the queue at our Orbital Factory Three and transported to our geosynchronous station, where installation of the Drive has already begun."
Vetter returned to the podium. "As you can see, Harry Thaler is now fully Informed, and his department is already forming preliminary plans for conversion of our standard ships to use the Marsten Drive, though of course these can't be implemented until we've actually tested the thing. That test is expected to take place in four months, barring unforseen difficulties. Harry's previous work, and that of his department, has solved the long-term life-support and fuel-efficiency problems we were facing.
"Being pressed for time and burdened by secrecy as we are, we cannot afford a long and cautious testing period; we'll have to do it more like Yeager, with all the risks that entails. Naturally we'll need a test pilot-"
"Yo." Nora Gaines raised her hand.
"Ah, Nora, I must inform you that there is a significant risk of injury and/or death involved here-"
Gaines crossed her arms. "And that's different from my regular job how?"
"You're familiar with the laws of physics," Vetter explained. "This thing breaks them. It's not that you're not qualified, it's that nobody's qualified."
"Then I guess I'd better start studying, hadn't I?"
After looking at Gaines for some time, Vetter finally cocked an eyebrow and said, "Yeah. ...Moving along," he continued, "there's also the small and sentimental matter of a name for the Human race's first starship-"
"ENTERPRISE!" chorused the conference room.
Grimacing from the shock to his sensitive hearing, Vetter responded, "That's about what we figured. Turning to less momentous news," he continued, "Harry's protégé Dominica Gonzalez, who unfortunately can't be fully Informed yet but has earned a Seat, has solved one of our smaller problems with the development of the Gonzalez Modular Weapon System, now entering production in a quiet corner of Building 12." For the next several minutes Vetter waxed enthusiastic about the rifle and machinegun the young woman had condensed from the world's classic designs.
15 August 2004
Vetter, Bjolnir and Marsten, and some dozens of their closest friends, floated on the science deck of Vetter Aerospace's third-largest ship, Ariel, at the Terra-Luna system's L2 LaGrange point, a point in space above the exact opposite side of the Moon from the Earth. Tallenbeck likewise waited in their second-largest ship, Liberty, which was twenty-four light minutes away near the orbit of Mars, reached in days instead of months with the new constant-acceleration fusion engines. The Marsten Device had already been proven, and a communications link had been established between Ariel and Liberty which was effectively realtime. There was a third ship on this communications channel: Enterprise. She floated a thousand kilometers from Ariel, still concealed from Terra by Luna's bulk - Vetter Aerospace did not want any more people than necessary to see what they hoped was about to happen. Vetter keyed his audio transmitter; Marsten Device bandwidth was frustratingly narrow, but not for much longer according to Marsten's team. "Enterprise, Ariel. How you doing, Nora?"
"I can't believe you talked me into this."
Vetter laughed. "The way I remember it, you volunteered. Pretty forcefully, too."
"Huh. Green board here, ready when you are."
"Stand by. Liberty, Ariel. You ready, Hans?"
"Ja, I have my catcher's mitt on, let me have it."
"Very funny, Liberty. This is Enterprise, drive is charged, course locked in, ready to engage."
"Enterprise, Ariel, let ‘er rip."
"Roger, Ariel. Liberty, see you in a couple minutes. Engaging Marsten Drive in three, two, one, mark...!
"...What the he-
"Ariel, Liberty. Kurt, are you there?"
"I hear you, Hans. Enterprise is no longer visible to us, but that's not very encouraging, is it?"
"Two minutes, ten seconds, gentlemen," said Marsten. "Then we really start worrying." Vetter thought she looked quite worried enough already, by Gaines' last abbreviated transmission.
The time passed slowly, a cliche which Marsten would have dissected in a less stressful moment. The trip was calculated to take two minutes, twenty-seven seconds, at ten times lightspeed. At two minutes twenty elapsed, Tallenbeck began calling. "Enterprise, this is Liberty, do you read?" He repeated the call every ten seconds. "Enterprise, this is Liberty, do you read?"
The time when Enterprise should have emerged from hyperspace passed. "Enterprise, this is Liberty, do you read?" There was still no response. Then, a few seconds behind schedule, a tremendous electromagnetic pulse swept across Liberty's position, tripping circuit breakers, burning out their primary and secondary radar systems, and disrupting local space so that the science ship could neither receive nor transmit on either conventional communication channels or the Marsten Device. Remote probes surrounding the area where Enterprise was expected to appear automatically relayed what data they could to Ariel over their own Marsten Devices before they too were disrupted.
"Crap," Vetter observed in a detached voice, pulling himself to a science station. Bjolnir did the same beside him and they both began working to reestablish contact. "Liberty, this is Ariel," Bjolnir called. "Do you read, over?" Static poured from the speakers, tantalizingly uneven, as though words might be hidden within. "Enterprise, this is Ariel, do you read, over?"
"Something came out of hyperspace in the target area," said Vetter, examining the probes' data. "A few seconds late and a few hundred kilometers off target, but well within parameters. I just can't tell what it is. Rachel, can you make any sense of this?"
Marten had been strapped to a seat before the main console throughout the experiment and was already pecking fluidly at its controls. "No, it's a hash," she moaned. "We expected - we prepared for an EMP, but this is at least seven times more powerful than we anticipated. Damn it, where did I screw this up?"
"Don't beat yourself up yet, Rachel," admonished Bjolnir. "We don't know anything yet one way or the other. ...Liberty, Ariel, do you read, over? ...Enterprise, Ariel, do you read?"
Minutes passed and the static began to fade. Finally contact was reestablished with Liberty. "We have her on radar!" Tallenbeck shouted. "This is Liberty, we have Enterprise on radar- we have visual! The ship is intact, I repeat, the ship is intact! Enterprise, this is Liberty, can you hear us? We are maneuvering to intercept. Enterprise, do you read?"
"Why doesn't she answer?" Marsten whispered to herself, tears beginning to float at the corners of her eyes.
Vetter heard. "Maybe she's just unconscious," he said, quickly continuing, "or more likely the EMP made a bigger mess of Enterprise's systems than it did of Liberty's. There's nothing any of us can do about it from here so stop torturing yourself until we know more. That's an order," he added gently.
Tallenbeck repeated his call, the static almost completely faded now. "Enterprise, this is Liberty, do you read, over?"
"...Yeah, and I write pretty good too. Now shut up a minute, I'm trying to decide whether to throw up again."
After a stunned moment, thunderous cheers erupted on both ends of the link. "Go ahead, Nora," Bjolnir shouted over the din. "I'll send Kurt in to mop it up."
"Huh. Urp-" Some unpleasant sounds could be heard. "Hey, Kurt, sorry I took so long, I... was a little confused, but I'm okay now. Hyperspace is really... weird. Has Rachel committed seppuku yet?"
"No," answered Vetter, half-grinning, half-grimacing, "but she's got a knife wrapped in rice paper." Actually Marsten looked like she could use a drink, and Vetter launched a bulb of white wine (champagne would have been disastrous in weightlessness) at her.
"Well, take it away from her. When we get back dirtside I want the pleasure of personally barfing on her shoes."
"Enterprise, this is Liberty. We will be docking in twenty minutes."
"Understood, Liberty. Enterprise standing by."
"What happened?" Marsten exclaimed.
"I'm... still trying to figure that out myself, Rachel. Now that my computers aren't spouting gibberish, I'll upload my telemetry."
For the next six hours the data was examined, the various parties ordering each other to break off and get some rest. Finally, on Ariel at least, Bjolnir alone floated before the main console, staring at its screen, almost randomly cycling the data through various filters.
Then she stopped, and stared a little harder.
She stared for a full minute, then attacked the console, focusing on what had earlier been dismissed as a false radar image. She turned to visual records from Enterprise and Ariel, filtering them for infra-red, ultraviolet, every part of the electromagnetic spectrum that she could apply, and finally found herself with a single, blurred image that was as technologically tortured as she could make it.
"Rachel," she called to Marsten's sleeping form. "Rachel!" The physicist stirred but did not wake. Bjolnir hurled an empty coffee bulb at her and she started, gasping and thrashing a bit in the still-unfamiliar free-fall sleeping harness. Bjolnir beckoned her over, turning back to the screen, and Marsten floated to the console, rubbing sleep from her eyes. "What," Bjolnir asked, pointing, "is that?"
Three hours later, Marsten spoke to the assembled experiment team on both ends of the Marsten Device. "What you see on your screens is, as best we can determine, an artificial device massing about thirty kilograms, roughly spherical, about 1.3 meters in diameter. Lynna, who has far more experience in such matters, has suggested that this device is similar to our own remote probes in the target area, though of course without the Marsten Device for faster-than-light communications, intended to collect radio, radar, visual and other data and transmit it to a remote observer, or store it for later transmission. She also suggests that this device was deliberately constructed with stealth characteristics and intended to operate unobserved.
"Where is it now? It isn't; it was the EMP. Apparently, against odds that were literally astronomical, this device was directly in Enterprise's flight path when the Marsten Drive engaged and was actually caught in the Marsten Field as it formed. Unable to withstand the sudden and enormous pseudo-gravitational stress, it came apart, in the process breaching its own power source, a nuclear-decay fuel cell such as the American and other space programs have been using for at least two decades.
"I wish to stress at this point that in this instance, the nature of the Marsten Field completely neutralized alpha, beta, gamma, and X-radiation, converting it instead to conventional electromagnetic energy - rather a lot of it, as we observed - and that none of us need worry any more than we already intended about exposure to harmful radiation. The fissionable material in this unidentified device reacted with the Marsten Field in such a way as to produce an electromagnetic pulse far more powerful than we anticipated when Enterprise emerged from hyperspace near the orbit of Mars. I believe this reaction was also responsible for the 3.2 second delay in the initial engagement of the Drive, and the 11.1 second delay in flight, and incidentally the unpleasant side- effects Nora experienced.
"Where did it come from? Lynna believes, and I agree, that it was launched from the United Nations moonbase and deliberately guided to our position to covertly observe our actions. In short, ladies and gentlemen, the UN was spying on us, and in so doing risked the life of Ms. Gaines and possibly all of us."
Marsten handed the microphone to Bjolnir. "It gets worse. Using the data we collected, Rachel has been able to alter one of our spare Marsten Devices and convert it to an active sensor - in other words, faster-than-light radar. We've used this device, which we are confident UN technology cannot detect or counter, to scan the area and have discovered another such device in a similar orbit to the first. We have used Ariel's experimental Marsten Gun to destroy this device, an action which we hope will be indecipherable to, our... enemy, and which we hope will be blamed, as we hope the loss of the first device will be, on simple mechanical failure."
Now Vetter spoke. "Obviously we're running out of time. Pretty soon the UN will send a manned craft over here, and while I'm not reluctant to kill someone who helped risk Nora's life, I am reluctant to give the UN anything more to work with than they may already have. Enterprise has been fitted with a Marsten Detector, converted from one of Liberty's spares, and all three ships together have determined that the return flight path is free of obstructions. I believe that we must return Enterprise to Lunar space as soon as possible, before our enemies can prove she was missing and start theorizing about where and how she might have gone. Nora is already preparing Enterprise for her return flight, which will take place in a few minutes. Once complete, however, our problems do not end but only begin.
"We must greatly accelerate our schedule. We must begin immediate production of Marsten Drives and fit them to as many of our ships as possible; Mitchell Co., one of Vetter Aerospace's alleged competitors, has already begun conversion of their orbital platform for Drive production, and Mirabushi Ltd. will make their facility available for installation. We must use these ships to explore the target stars and determine whether they do in fact have planets capable of supporting human life; if not we must find planets that are, and we must begin that colonization. Finally, we must do all these things as secretly as possible. Our time is running out. The Escape may be upon us in as much as ten years, or as little as ten days. We must be prepared to go at any moment."
Enterprise's return trip was far less eventful, and Gaines recanted her remark about Marsten's shoes.
10 September 2004
"No sense wasting time," said Vetter. "We know the drive works now; Jupiter and back in less than an hour without a bump. We need to adapt and provision a ship for an interstellar mission as soon as possible."
"Enterprise is the most likely candidate," Tallenbeck answered. "She already has the Drive installed and integrated. We can add modules to her, like this-" Tallenbeck demonstrated with an animated holograph- "place a Model 2 landing craft and a pair of D-Type shuttles here, and send her to the first target system. With the Device we can maintain communication with a lag of a day or two at most."
"Less than that," Marsten added. "I've been doing some fine-tuning and made some improvements; if we take a couple weeks to refit the drive we can increase speed to twelve c or more, and reduce the communications lag even more."
Tallenbeck continued, "With such speed, we could extend the mission to examine the second system before returning here, which would save a great deal of time and resources."
"Good," Vetter said, sharing the engineer's Teutonic passion for efficiency. "And as long as we're taking those couple of weeks for refit, we can use the time to build a proper crew. Lynna?"
"Nora for captain; she's picked two to spell her as pilot, though of course computers will do most of that work. My staff is assembling a team of geologists, biologists and so on. Most aren't Informed yet, and those that are are screaming about being rushed on something that should take a decade or more. I've explained the time constraints and the reasoning behind them and some claim to understand. Dr. Bowditch is my first choice for mission commander, she's well rounded in the fields we'll need and has a reputation as a peacemaker. Total crew, twenty-five." Bjolnir handed over a datapad with the crew list.
"Cute, ain't it?"
Peter Sexton was justifiably proud of his creation - barely the size and weight of a man, the environmental probe could withstand thirty gravities of acceleration, atmospheric entry, and a landing impact of fifty meters per second. The titanium alloy comprising most of the probe's structure was refined from ore found on one of Mitchell Co.'s asteroid mines, and was resistant to most known forms of corrosion. The sleek cylindrical shell concealed a remarkable array of devices to measure atmospheric content, soil composition, water purity, and anything else Sexton's team could dream up and cram in. Data was transmitted by radio, or laser, or microwave, each independent, all three in each probe; unfortunately the most refined version of the Marsten Device so far was still as big as the probe itself, but that would change in the years to come. The final production model of the Sexton Probe was to NASA's Viking Lander as the Hubble Space Telescope was to a child stargazer's backyard toy - an analogy Sexton, formerly a frustrated NASA engineer, was quite fond of.
"Pete, it's gorgeous. How many and how soon?" asked Vetter.
Sexton handed a datapad to Thaler. "I just dream ‘em up, Harry's the production expert."
Thaler activated the pad and scrolled to a certain page; he was already very familiar with the design. "As-is, one the first day, two the second and third, three the fourth, five a day thereafter. But, Pete, if this part here could be split and rejoined instead of being this solid framework, we could get into this whole chamber in a fraction of the time, and they'd be easier to fabricate too. Here, let me show you-" Thaler plugged the pad into his workstation, accessed the drawing he wanted and attacked it with keyboard and mouse. A minute later an image of the new design was rotating in the prototype holotank. Vetter watched patiently.
"But making that bulkhead into two pieces will weaken the structural integrity of the entire probe!" Sexton complained.
"Not the way I'm doing it. Look, these bolts here, that's part of it, but we've also got this ultrasonic welding technique we've finally got figured out, we coat these surfaces with the flux and wave the magic wand over ‘em, it'll be at least as strong as the original alloy, maybe better."
Sexton stared at the floating hologram, plucking at his beard, then nodded. "Okay- okay. I can live with that."
Thaler nodded and turned to Vetter. "One the first day, five the second, fifteen or twenty a day after that as long as the parts keep coming."
Vetter smiled. "Gentlemen, thank you. I'll take a hundred - to start with. Give me a copy of that pad, would you? I need to show it to Hans and Nora so they can figure out where to stick ‘em and how to drop ‘em."
4 December 2004
Enterprise had traveled through real space for a month at constant acceleration to reach Vetter Aerospace's outpost in the asteroid belt. There, the ship could safely disappear from the eyes of Earth, while a decoy ship and fabricated transmissions allayed UN suspicions.
Topping up fuel and supplies, the starship and her twenty-five person crew departed; ducking behind a convenient flying mountain to mask herself from UN observation, Enterprise pointed herself toward the constellation Cetus and became the ninth man-made object ever to leave Sol System - and unlike those fragile, primitive robot probes, Enterprise carried a human crew and could go wherever that crew desired. Dr. Marsten's improvements drove the starship to a speed of nearly fifteen and a half times that of light, and raised communication speed to over twenty thousand.
During the delay for refit, VA's Model 3 landing craft had entered production; smaller, lighter and tougher, Enterprise could carry two where the original plan had called for a single Model 2. Three D-Type shuttles were carried instead of the original two; these required something resembling a runway for takeoff and landing, but the Model 3 could land vertically in any eighteen- meter-wide clearing and so could scout for terrain the shuttles could use. One hundred thirty-eight Sexton Probes studded Enterprise's hull like barnacles, and another fifty-six rode in the holds of the shuttles and landing craft. Ship's stores and environmental systems were sufficient to last four years on a journey that was expected to take less than two.
The first stop was Tau Ceti, a G8 star 11.9 light years from Sol and the nearest of the same spectral class - not counting the G2 of Alpha Centauri, which as a binary system had no habitable planets, as confirmed by the Mirabushi Observatory. But the orbiting telescopic array had found evidence of Earthlike conditions on the second planet of the Tau Ceti system; spectroanalysis had indicated liquid water composed of two parts hydrogen and one oxygen; an atmosphere of approximately one part oxygen and four of nitrogen; and variations in the planet's reflective nature that could be interpreted as sunlight gleaming on oceans and being absorbed by land.
The nature of hyperspace as accessed by the Marsten Drive was completely free of gravity, but within the Marsten Field Newton's Laws of Physics still applied, and artificial gravity equal to one-third that of Terra's was created by extending modules on cables and collapsible, pressurized tunnels and spinning the ship on its long axis; thus the crew could sleep and do some work in at least some acceleration to retard the loss of muscle tone and bone strength. The modules could not be extended further than they were to produce more acceleration, due to the limit of the Marsten Field, but the crew's Russian doctor knew from first-hand experience that it would be enough.
In less than an hour Enterprise had left Sol System's radio interference far behind and could begin receiving the clearest radio astronomy signals ever; likewise the light pollution of Sol and the ‘dust on the lens' of her system of worlds was replaced by the empty interstellar gulf. Less than two weeks after departure, at half a light-year from Sol, Enterprise returned to realspace to take visual observations of the target world with a collapsible array second only to Mirabushi's; the Marsten Detector swept the Tau Ceti system and illuminated the various planets, asteroids and comets, and their orbits. The telescope images were processed by the ship's computer, the most powerful that had ever flown, and revealed oceans, continents, clouds. The data was transmitted back to Vetter Aerospace, Mitchell Co. and Mirabushi Ltd., the Marsten Device still operating effectively in realtime at this distance - then the array was folded up and stowed and Enterprise plunged back into hyperspace, racing toward what some on Terra were already daring to call Monticello.
The waiting was the hardest part. In ten months, including delays for course corrections and further observations, Enterprise had reached orbit above Tau Ceti 2. The ship aimed her formidable array of sensors and probes at the alien world: gravity, 10.8 meters per second squared; mean atmospheric pressure at sea level, 85,000 Pascals, or fifteen percent thinner than Terra; composition, 81% nitrogen, 17% oxygen, 2% other gasses - not quite as easy to breathe as that of the homeworld, but children born here would be conditioned for tremendous strength and endurance compared to those who remained on Terra. Saltwater oceans, little different from those of Terra; freshwater lakes and rivers in abundance; plant life likewise similar; animal life, mammalian, reptilian, avian, insect, piscatory, or at least close enough to be called such, fortunately none showing evidence of higher intelligence. Daily rotation, slightly more than thirty hours; orbital period, 181 local days, or 228 Terran.
A landing site was chosen at what would become the friendly little town of Liberty on East Continent. LC1, the first of the two Model 3 landing craft, upon which some anonymous crewmember had reverently (or perhaps irreverently) painted the name Galileo, set down in a beautiful meadow... and stayed there for six days as the environment was tested with all the science Humans could bring to bear. Animals brought from Terra were exposed to the water, atmosphere and plant life until the scientists declared the new world safe. Captain Nora Gaines and Dr. Elaine Bowditch, commanders of the ship and the mission, joined hands and stepped off the landing craft's ramp together, walked a hundred meters to the top of a small hill, and planted the first red-white- and-black flag of the Jeffersonian Republic.
Hours later, watching the recordings, Kurt Vetter wept. The following morning, he presided over the first, secret, Constitutional Convention of the Jeffersonian Republic.
During their stay at Monticello, the crew of Enterprise received instructions from Marsten to adjust the starship's Marsten Drive. A short test flight through the Tau Ceti system demonstrated a speed more than nineteen times that of light.
Next on Enterprise's itinerary was Epsilon Indi, a K2 star eleven and a half light years from Tau Ceti, and 11.8 from Terra. There they found planets in plenty, but none like their first discovery; seven gas giants and their uninhabitable moons, two asteroid belts and part of a third. Closer examination, however, revealed that one such moon, cold and dry, nonetheless could support Human life, if not much of it. Native life forms were primitive and sparse, the risk of upsetting the moon's environment was deemed acceptable, and the United Nations' jurisdiction definitely did not extend, so the landing craft Galileo, her sister Copernicus, and the three shuttles roamed methodically across the atmosphere, seeding vast empty land and shrunken ocean with terraforming bugs, algae and bacteria designed before Enterprise's departure to thicken just such a planet's atmosphere over decades, eventually making the world warmer and more hospitable to life as Humans knew it.
Meanwhile Liberty had been fitted with her own Marsten Drive, incorporating the same improvements Enterprise had tested, which now drove both ships above c20. The Mirabushi Observatory had received upgrades as well, and had discovered and confirmed another Earthlike world around Delta Pavonis, only ten light years from Epsilon Indi but nearly twenty from Sol. The decision was made; Liberty and the transport Virginia would proceed with an advance colony to Monticello while Enterprise would return to Terra for refit and resupply, then quickly depart in convoy with Ariel and the recently-completed San Jacinto to Delta Pavonis, leaving the science and transport ships there with another advance team while Enterprise continued to suspected habitable worlds around Gamma Pavonis, Beta Hydri, and Alpha Mensae, thirty-three light years from Sol.
In time, the chilly, desolate moon in the Epsilon Indi system would become the warmer and more welcoming world of New Israel. Delta Pavonis would shine in the skies of New Texas and Crunch; Gamma Pavonis would warm the continent-spanning forests of Adams' World; Beta Hydri would host the world of Alexandria; Alpha Mensae would become home to the unhappy world of Hornbeck.