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Aberrant: Children of Quantum Fire - Oops, Disregard This Thread

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When Alexandra left the new kids in the care of the old kids, she was aware that she was, in some manner, copping out. Self-deception had never been her strong suit. What few, maybe no one, knew was that she was subject to her own razor-sharp examinations, her own unforgiving eye that picked out each flaw. No matter how self-absorbed she got, there was always a piece of her that stood off to one side within her own mind, watching from an emotional distance.

So she was perfectly aware that she was using the submarine project as a legitimate excuse to get away from them. All of them, in fact, but especially the two rescuees. She didn't need the girl listening in on her emotions at the moment. She certainly didn't need to take the chance that her thoughts could be read...because those thoughts would not make her Miss Popular right now. As unfair as it sometimes one, maintaining the delicate social fabric of the 'family' sometimes required Alex to sublimate her frustrations into her work. Contrary to the theorizing of baseline therapists, communication would not make things better. It didn't take a supergenius to understand that telling someone that sometimes she could barely stand to look at them because they were so stupid would only hurt the relationship. Now imagine telling EVERYONE that.

Yeah. No happy endings for anyone there. So Alex adapted. When her siblings pissed her off the most was when she worked the best. It was a cop out. A way to avoid emotional intimacy and connection. A demonstration of her own deep-seated uneasiness with her own emotions. It was all of those things, but it also WORKED, and as an engineer that was what finally made Alex's days. It worked.

She started with workspace. The lab, as big as it was, was far too small. Their island was volcanic though, and riddled with caves and caverns and tunnels where magma had once pooled and flowed. So Alex went spelunking.

The Typhoon-class hull her design called for was enormous. Over 575 feet long, 75 feet wide and 40 feet high, not counting the tower on top. Fully submerged it displaced over 40,000 tons of water. The cave she needed had to be bigger than that so she could fabricate the necessary equipment in it and still have room for the hull, it had to be fairly clear and open so there was space, and it had to be...above all...stable. She couldn't have the whole thing caving in and wrecking her precious sub. Not with the effort she was going to be putting into it.

A bit of poking around underground, and a bit of seismic 'geosonar,' to find large airpockets in the rock, and a few hours later Alex found a cave that would be serviceable...after some modifications. The next few hours she spent in a jetpack with a searchlight, reshaping the cavern walls one bit at a time to make them self-buttressing and capable of holding the weight of the top. Then the floor and sides had to be smoothed out and space for the cranes made.

After all that, it was late and Alex was exhausted, so she went back to the base and to bed.

And so it was, the first day.

On the second day Alex returned to the cavernous shipyard-in-the-making. With effort, she managed to create a crane with a sling large enough to hold a hull section of the size she hoped to create. From there, she went on to picture the hull section in her head, and try to create it.

It's worth pointing out that there was very little in common between the 'picture' of the hull section in Alex's head, and the picture that would be in most minds. In Alex's mind was the equivalent of a complete architectural and engineering blueprint in three dimensions, along with a comprehensive diagram of the atomic and molecular structure of every type of material to be included. Even for her, this task was daunting and she didn't expect to get it right the first try. Or even the second.

But by the 8th try, she was out of power, sweating and panting and exhausted. Her failed attempts lay around her. Some were the size of garbage cans...her later, better tries were as big as an outhouse shed. But she was increasingly certain that it was simply beyond her limits to create something that was as simultaneously complex AND massive as a submarine hull. Even a significant fraction of one.

It was a crushing revelation, and she sat there in the cavern for hours trying to figure out a way of getting around those limits. It was only when the floodlamps she'd created suddenly vanished, plunging her into darkness, that Alex got back to her feet and made her way back through the long and twisty tunnel to be base.

And it was then that she sent through the link to Warren:

How big can you make a warp portal? Say...75 feet by 40 feet?

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Originally Posted By: SalmonMax
...it was then that she sent through the link to Warren: How big can you make a warp portal? Say...75 feet by 40 feet?
Warren replied, "Your generic stable gate is a hair less than 10 feet by 10 feet. From that I can add or subtract upto 16 from any of those numbers and keep it stable. So that's 10x26 or 13x16 or whatever... and subtracting from one side 'costs' me so I can't add it back in on the other side. I can make stable zero width gates which cut like a mathematical construct."

"I can also make unstable gates which max out to a 300 feet sphere. What happens inside an unstable gate is somewhat speculative but 'nothing good' is the basic conclusion."

"Does any of that help? What's up?"
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Too small, Alex fretted. Well, that simplifies things I guess...though not in the way I'd hoped to. Basically, Warren, I can't make this sub. It's just too big. So we'll have to steal one. Now there's two of them that've been decommissioned in Russia, and one on active duty. I was thinking, if you can warp, we could hook up an engine to one of the mothballed ones and just push it through the warp into the cavern. But THAT isn't going to work, because your warp is too small.

...so we'll have to do this the hard way.

We'll have to hijack the one that's currently active, overcome and evacuate the crew, then pilot the sub back home without revealing our destination. Or, ideally, our identities.

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Warren kept the link open, " shocked ...not afraid to think small are you? OK, say we do this. Why would we need to bring it back here? Could we manage things so we retro-fit it out there? If we're going to have multiple bases, then let's keep them apart if at all possible."

If Warren had any ethical issues with Alex's idea they didn't come through over the link.

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Alex gritted her teeth. There it was again. The questioning. Always the questioning. It was as if they didn't think she'd THOUGHT about this. Like they thought that when Alex came to them with a course of action, it was just something she'd pulled out of her ass right then and there, and hadn't considered other possibilities. And then they expected her to go over the whole process again, with them, holding their hands and walking them laboriously through each little step.

Look, I have an idea. Can we just assume I've answered all your questions and convinced you that the plan I originally stated was the optimal one? It's what'll happen anyway, but this way we save about fifteen minutes. The real question...the one we should be asking...is if the submarine idea is worth all the extra risk. Not to mention making an enemy of Russia when they figure out who took their billion dollar sub.

Abruptly Alex paused. A new paradigm emerged, with a new branching tree of potentials. It still might not work, for any of a dozen reasons...but she thought Russia would at least be willing to listen.

Warren, actually, nevermind. I have another idea. Maybe you can still help though. What kind of holdings do you have off the island? Companies, investments...all that kind of thing. Meet me in the lab.

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Warren sent, Chess all over again I guess.

Warren had played Alex in Chess once. The idea was his tactical abilities might help him against her raw intellect. It hadn't.

Warren opened a warp and stepped through to Alex's lab. He also sent back a little defensively, Holdings? I've had 'getting rich' on my too do list for the last decade. It'd be easy and useful and one of these days I'll get around to it. I've been busy.

I have a few tens of thousands squirreled away here and there. You planning on just buying that sub? Or maybe getting a smaller second hand one?

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Alex was just coming out of the tunnel to the new caverns when Warren arrived. She nodded at him in greeting and continued verbally...she'd never been one to use the link unless it was necessary. Warren got the feeling she'd be happier if everyone was using radio, though even she grudgingly admitted the security of the link was superior.

"Smaller won't work. We NEED a sub this big, if it's going to serve as a permanent base," Alexandra demurred. "Still, Russia isn't exactly the world superpower it once was. If we can represent ourselves correctly, and give them an offer they can't refuse...well, I think we could persuade them to part with one of those mothballs."

She took a breath then nodded. "Okay, I think this is a big enough issue that it calls for a vote. Whether we steal a sub or buy one, we'll all be involved, so it follows that everyone has a say."

"What do you think, Warren?"

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