Quest - Chapter 18
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Allan tests his new Drive system and it looks like the Quest's crew has a problem.


Disclaimer: Joss, Fox, Universal Own em’. I’m just playing. No money being made. The situations come from my own twisted mind as do my original characters.


AN: Wow. Sorry for the huge delay. My muse moved away without leaving a forwarding address, not to mention the fourteen to sixteen hour days I've been pulling at work. Not a lot of time left over for writing.

Again, my apologies


Quest-Chapter Eighteen


Allan's prediction of being able to get back to Earth by the weekend was a bit over optimistic.

Now that he had the physics figured out, it took weeks to translate a whole wall's worth of mathematical equations into actual hardware that would allow a normal ship to access Hyperspace.

It also took the combined brainpower of four of the smartest people in the 'Verse to figure out how to put it all together.

Thankfully, all four were all in one place. Between River and her daughter, Rachel refining the math and then Allan translating the data into a workable blueprint for he and Kaylee to fabricate parts from, it still took over a month to get Free Bird outfitted and begin fabrication of the necessary parts to outfit Tranquility and later on, Quest.

During that month, many things happened out in the 'real 'Verse'.

Bob Pace and Dan Reed were the toast of Londinium as the representatives from Earth. However, on the political front, the initial ovations from the Alliance government had fallen a bit flat.

What Secretary of State Pace had requested was both a full and open exchange of advanced Alliance technology for additional Flora and Fauna from Earth that hadn't been brought on the Exodus.

Many species had been transported between the systems and many more reintroduced from the genetic stocks recovered from the Kansas, ten years before.

However, there were still some animals and plants that either didn't survive the Exodus or were too troublesome to transport over the vast distances of the Exodus.

For example, the oceans of Belepheron, Londinium and New Melbourne teemed with all manner of fish species and even some aquatic mammals and the smaller cetaceans like dolphins. But, there wasn't a whale bigger than an orca or any sharks larger than small threshers or reefs.

Likewise, on land, while there were abundances of the smaller species, you couldn't find a real elephant or hippopotamus outside of full sized holograms at the Londinium Natural History Museum. They, like the whales were just too big. Same could be said for some of the more viscous predators like the afore mentioned large sharks and the, 'if it moves, it's food', mindset of animals like polar bears.

Now with a transport time measured in hours rather than a century. Alliance biologists had visions dancing in their heads of herds of elephants roaming the plains of Harvest and polar bears hunting elk and deer on the barren tundra of St. Albans.

What the Alliance offered in return was almost laughable. A few obsolete shuttles that barely had the ability to break atmo on their own and medical technology that was outdated even on backwater rim worlds like Whitefall.

When Allan head about the Alliance's offer, he nearly fell over in laughter.

The one natural resource that was needed daily, even in this day of fusion power and interplanetary space travel was petroleum.

Simple oil. The result of millions of years worth of decomposing animal and vegetable matter.

Only Londinium, upon arrival of the first exodus ships and their robot terriforming precursors had any life at all upon it's surface. What life there was consisted of simple plants and a few bacteria. Without the millions of years worth of life on the surface, there wasn't any natural oil. In fact, every lubricant, internal combustion engine fuel and plastic in the 'Verse was made by the use of some very clever chemistry. The basic raw materials scooped from the carbon rich atmospheric soup found on the gas giants like Belix and Zeus. That's why most of the rim worlds took so long to establish their economy at a self sufficient level.

The hydrocarbons needed to run simple machinery were just so expensive...

On the other hand. With a population of just over a billion, low demand due to the sudden rediscovery of fusion power after two hundred years and an overabundance of natural crude oil. Earth, could be poised to be to the Alliance what Saudi Arabia was to the rest of the planet Earth in the late twentieth century.

For that alone, Allan Bryant, Durrin Haymer and the rest of the leadership at Blue Sun were willing to pay handsomely.

If Allan's new drive system worked as he thought it would. Soon, vast interstellar oil tankers could be plying the space lanes between Earth and the worlds of the Alliance.

But first, Allan had to make sure all the last months work was not all for naught.


“Ready, Allan?”

“I think so, Kaylee,” the elderly engineer replied.

“Sure you don't want one o' us along on the test hop?”

Allan shook his head, “Zoë 's already pissed at me for doing the test flight myself. I don't want to risk anyone else.”

“Told her no, didn't ya'?” the mother of two and soon to be grandmother grinned.

“She wanted to fly too,” Allan nodded.

“Well, I'll let ya get to it, Ge-ge,” Kaylee replied before pulling Allan into a hug.

“I'll be fine... I think.”

“It will work,” River said as she stepped up next to her sister-in-law and adopted uncle.

“Okay ladies, better step back so I can give this a shot..”

“Where's Zoë ?” Kaylee asked. Wondering why Allan's wife wasn't there to see him off.

“Still mad at me. Stormed off to the house,” Allan sighed.

“Get going,” River ordered, “The sooner you leave. The sooner you two can make up.”

“Okay, Kiddo,” Allan smiled at River. She rolled her eyes at the nickname. Allan had giver her that moniker decades ago. At nearly forty seven years of age, River Cobb hadn't been a kid for many years.

River and Kaylee turned and headed for Kaylee's shop next to the landing pad. With a last glance around, Allan climbed the ramp into Freebird.


Zoë gazed into the sky. Her eyes following the receding shape of her husband's small ship. Zoë knew why Allan had insisted she stay behind. If something did go wrong with the new drive system. Allan didn't want to leave Sara without any parents.

Zoë know it was the right thing to do.

That didn't mean she had to like it any.

“You better bring your Pi-gu back to me, Allan Bryant,” Zoë muttered as the thump of Freebird's sonic boom echoed back from the nearby mountains.


Once in orbit, Allan did a last systems check. They new FTL drive that he and River had designed, based on his daughter's original ideas was, until this moment... untested.

Instead of using a massive planetary grade gravity generator as the core of the system like Quest. The new drive instead focused the stream of charged particles emitted from a radion accelerator core engine to a point just a nanometer across. So much energy focused in one place for all intents and purposes, 'poked' a hole in space time and allowed the ship to access hyperspace.

Unlike Quest's system that generated an artificial black hole and blew a hole in space-time.

At least that was the theory.

“Here goes nothin....” Allan muttered to himself as he powered Freebird out of Boros' orbit on a heading for Deadwood in the Blue Sun system.

Normally the trip in Freebird would take over two weeks and require at least one fuel stop.

If all went to plan, He'd be sitting in Jayne's mother's parlor for afternoon tea in a little over twenty minutes. Nineteen of those minutes needed for reentry and landing.

Taking a deep breath, Allan began to power up the drive. Freebird was already howling through space at full burn. Once the FTL system was brought on line, the golden cloud of particles left in the small vessel's wake would focus and hopefully propel the ship into hyperspace.

“Flight data recorder on,” Allan intoned into the microphone for the recorder, “Full burn initiated thirty seconds ago. Course steady for Deadwood. Jumping in ten seconds.”

Allan's eyes did a last check of the bridge displays as the computer counted down, “Five seconds...”

“Three, two, one, Jumping!”

In a flash of light, the cloud of golden energy at the aft end of Freebird suddenly focused into a narrow cone.

And the small ship disappeared.


Allan blinked his eyes, “What the hell?”

Something felt wrong. First off, the transition was too smooth. When Quest jumped. It felt like a combination of jumping over a cliff and the morning after the worst bender in your life.

What Allan had felt this time was something more like hitting a pothole in the road.

Not to mention the planet looming in the bridge windows was most certainly not Deadwood.

If he didn't know better, he would swear it was Miranda.

Just as Allan's mind realized that fact, the proximity alarm sounded.

“No way!” Allan said out loud as an old battered vessel hove into view. An ancient Trans-U with a very prominent magnetic grapple attacked to the port side.

A grapple that was slowly opening and crackling with energy.

Allan' wasn't one of the best pilots in the 'Verse for nothing. Despite his advanced age. The elderly engineer's reflexes were still sharp. Just as the Trans-U came into grapple range, Freebird shot away at a sharp angle. The small ship's auxiliary fusion engines adding to the golden glow of the main radion core engine.

The grapple missed by scant meters as Freebird shot away. The old Trans-U shuddered as it tried to match the turn. Simultaneously reeling in the grapple for another shot.

Allan pulled away from the pursuing vessel, “How the hell can there still be Reavers after all this time?” he asked out loud to no one in particular.

The Trans-U put on a burst of speed and began to gain.

“Enough of this bullshit,” Allan grumbled as he hit several switches on the panel before him. In Freebird's belly, two small panels opened.

Suddenly, Freebird's engines fell silent as the arrow shaped craft flipped end over end. Her bow now pointed at the Reaver ship.

“Say goodnight, Gracie,” Allan grinned as his thumb brushed the firing stud on the control stick twice.

Two missiles leaped from their launch rails in the small ship's belly. Rapidly eating up the distance between the two ships.

The Reaver pilot tried to turn away but the old ship hadn't been very maneuverable when new. Dodging an 'In your face' missile shot at a range of less than two miles would have been nearly impossible for any vessel.

Just before impact, Allan flipped Freebird again, engaged full burn and 'blipped' the FTL drive.

The Trans-U exploded in a spectacular fashion while Freebird disappeared from the normal universe.


“Now where the hell am I?” Allan grumbled. He had used the FTL to escape the explosion of the Trans-U but he hadn't had time to set a course. Since he had also overshot on the first jump. Then in short order jumped a second time without figuring out what way he was headed. He was slightly lost at the moment.

He was still in the 'Verse. Of that he was sure of since he still had cortex access and the navigational computer was receiving signals from the Navsat system.

The problem was that the computer was so far from where it had been before the two jumps, it was going to take a while to figure out just where the ship was.

After nearly ten minutes, the navigational system aligned.

“Wow,” Allan muttered when he saw where he was The jump from Boros to Miranda was over one hundred sixty AU. He had covered that distance, according to the computer in one tenth of a second. His 'Blip' of the drive had put Freebird almost back home in the Georgia system. Allan was forty AU above the orbital plane of the system and the closest planet was Hera.

“I guess it works,” he grinned as he carefully set course at standard speed for Boros. With the current acceleration, it would take nearly two days to get home. Now that he had some hard data to work with, Allan could calculate exactly how long a jump was needed to put Freebird back in orbit around Boros.

After ten minutes of number crunching, Freebird once again entered hyperspace and popped out directly over the northern continent of Boros at the right angle to enter geosynchronous orbit above the world.

With a grin on his face, Allan activated the cortex and called his house. A moment later Zoë 's relived face appeared on the screen.

“Did it work?” she asked without preamble.

“Yep,” Allan grinned.

Zoë let out a breath she hadn't known she had been holding. Slowly a grin formed on her face, “You realize, Husband. You might just steal your daughters Nobel Prize away from her...”

Allan chuckled, “Nah... I won't announce publicly until after New Years. That way she and Becca get this years physics prize and River and I can share next years...”

Zoë chuckled as well, “Whatever you say, Baby.”

“I'll be home in twenty minutes or so. I just need to reenter and land at the Acres.”

Allan didn't need to tell Zoë about the Reaver ship just yet. She was wound tight enough as it was.

“Okay, Baby. See you soon.”

“Love you,” Allan replied.

“Love you more,” Zoë replied as she cut the wave.


Jefferson Reynolds bit back a curse as he cut the wave from Ariel Coatings. The company who's huge microwave gaseous deposit ovens were needed to coat Quest's pods with a layer of artificial diamond to focus the immense energies needed to enter hyperspace. Had suffered another casualty at the facility.

After loosing the first huge oven to mysterious fire. The rebuilding process had been disrupted buy of all things, a shuttle crash into the facility.

The crash ruining the work done and setting Quest's refit back another six months.

At this rate, he'd be lucky to be able to get to Earth and Sara in time for the birth of their child... maybe.

Rubbing his face, Jeff leaned back in his chair, “Tian xiz shou you de ren dou gai si...”

“Problems, Jeff?” Virgil Ortega asked as he entered Quest's bridge.

“Ariel Coatings had a shuttle crash into the big ovens...”

“What?” Virgil exclaimed as he sat next to his friend at the helm. Turing in the chair to face Jeff.

“The fire I can accept. But now a shuttle crash?”

“I'm thinking the same thing, Virg,” Jeff replied, “Once is an accident. Twice is a conspiracy.”

“It's like someone doesn't want us to get back to Earth.”

Jeff nodded, “I know. I don't think it's the government. The Alliance is too damn happy about things. Hell, Blue Sun's stock price went up twelve credits just on the news that they helped build the ship. The public is excited.”

“I know. Every time I bump into someone who knows I went on the mission, all they can ask is 'what was Earth like'.”

“I get the same thing,” Jeff agreed.

At that moment, Mellisa Forbes stormed into the bridge, “Jeff... We've got a problem.”

Jeff swiveled his chair and stood up, “What's the matter, Mel?”

“I was just checking the backup computer core. Someone has hacked the entire system. Essentially making a clone of the entire core.”

“Tian xiaode!” Jeff growled, “That core has everything!”

Melissa nodded, “The software we need to operate the nav system, design specs on the ship itself, the FTL drive...”

“Who has access to the core?”

“Everyone on the crew... Even the Alliance people.”

Jeff was livid. He had a mole aboard his ship. Something that was hard to believe due to the abilities of one of those crew members. And it couldn't be her. Jeff trusted Rachel Cobb with his life.

“Maybe a Blue Sun Maintenance tech?” Virgil offered.

“We are docked,” Melissa replied, “But none of the dockyard workers have access to that part of the ship.”

“Cao,” Jeff muttered, “Where's Rachel?”

“On her way back from Boros,” Melissa said, “She was helping Allan on some project with River.”

“When is she due back?” Virgil asked.

“Late tonight,” Melissa replied.

Jeff contemplated things for a moment and then made his decision, “Mel, start trying to back trace the hack on the core. They might have left a trace of some kind. Virg... call Oso and let him know what's up. Might need a hand from Olivia on this one.”

“On it, Jeff,” Virgil replied as he activated the cortex.

“What are you going to do, Jeff?” Melissa asked.

“I'm flying down to have a chat with Commander Olsen.”


“You can't be serious, Jeff,” Commander Cordell Olsen said to the young man sitting across from his desk.

“As a heart attack, Cordell,” Jeff replied.

Commander Olsen leaned back in his chair. After returning from Quest's mission to Earth, he as well as the rest of the Alliance fleet personnel had returned to their previous duties. Cordell was in command of the 332nd Aerospace Interceptor Squadron based just outside New London on Londinium.

“Are you insinuating that some of my people did this?” the officer asked.

“I'm not insinuating anything,” Jeff replied, “But...”

Cordell nodded his head, “What do you need from me?”

“Everyone who went to Earth on Quest... tonight.”

“Why tonight?”

“Because. Rachel will be back tonight.”

Cordell's face hardened but he understood Jeff's position, “We'll be there.”


Alliance Petty Officer, Hipolito Flores was scared. Not for himself but for what might happen to his family.

“I did what you asked,” he said to the well dressed man sitting across from him.

“I know you did, 'Lito,” the man grinned, “May I call you, Lito?”

“Only my sister calls me that,” the fleet maintenance tech growled.

“Yes... what a lovely girl...”

“If you laid on finger on....”

The man abruptly stood. His bodyguards in the corners of the room took a menacing step forward, “I will do whatever I please, Mr. Flores.”

“Then let my sister go,” Hipolito replied back, not cowed by the man.

“We'll be holding her a bit longer,” the man replied as he sat back down. The bodyguards took a step back into the shadows.


“What's to keep you from running to the Feds once we release her... hmmm?”

“I wont...”

“Tell? I think not, 'Lito. You are a military man. You will do what you think is right. That is why we chose you. You care for your family and will do what you have to to protect them.”

“I have to meet with the Commander on Quest tonight.”

“No matter.” the man replied.

“They'll know what happened.”

“Only if you tell them. And if you do, your sister's life is forfeit. As are the lives of your parents.”

“They'll still know...”

“They had better not, 'Lito. For everyone's sake.”

The maintenance tech nodded. He knew that the moment he was in the same room with Rachel Cobb, the game would be up. He hadn't wanted to hack Quest's computer core but the men who held his sister hostage and threatened his elderly parents had the upper hand.

For now.




Friday, March 12, 2010 3:19 PM


Quote Jane0904 "So any ship can jump? Someone. somewhere, is not going to like that."

Blue Sun's competitors could be excited also.
If Jump capable is disruptive then doing it inexpensively will be more so.

Friday, March 12, 2010 4:08 PM


Is a little in wildered, who has something to loose if Startravel is being made possible to all ships, and not just bigger ships,like quest and Allans thoughts regarding Supertankerspaceships crossing the wastness of space. I was wondering if it could somehow be Adelai Nishka, or Atherton Wing, I mean Bluesun is pretty much doing what it can to do penance for its terrible crimes against River and the others. and the Alliance is as far as I know also finally doing good work, and not only for the ruling class.

But anyway there is atleast one technology that I think they could give the earth people, Terraforming, I know there is not "Dozens of planets and hundered of moons" but mars could probably be made into a new earth, and if they can artificial gravity, then the moons of Jupiter and Saturn too perhaps

Sunday, March 14, 2010 8:17 AM


So glad to see this back! And Reavers? Damn. Unless somehow Allan slipped back in time as well. Could be interesting if he figured out how to control it. But would he take the drastic step of destroying the Reavers before they left Miranda, and changing history? Otherwise, great stuff!


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