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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 111: Kondor 79
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 110: Brown 38
The weeks passed, and Kondor made the most of his time. Several times a week he arranged to practice firing the blaster at targets. He also began to exercise, resuming his military regimen to build up his body. Most of his time was spent studying, learning the advanced physics he would need to fully understand what little was already known about gravity and gravity generation. He realized that everything he read was so theoretical, it was entirely possible it would all be changed by the discovery of his gun; even the idea of negative gravity on which the theories about his gun were based was discounted by the majority of scientists in the field. He really was changing everything, but at least he was learning what it was all about in the process.
He also managed to build a simple solar charger for his power pack, a smaller and slower version of the system built in the lab. The technicians managed to make not just one but two copies of the power pack for him, and although he could see which was the original all three fit and functioned as near the same as he could tell. That meant when fully charged he had sixty charges, thirty shots on his preferred medium power setting, sixty for practice.
Long before they had figured out how his gun worked, he had attained the level of graduate student in the field. He was now learning the new theories as soon as they were devised, and contributing to their development directly.
The most difficult part of the process was studying the gun. There were three main components, but these were connected through microcircuit processors of some sort which made them function properly. The power supply had been mastered, and the switching system was clever but not terribly advanced. The beam projector seemed rather obvious, at least on the surface, but efforts to duplicate it were not yielding anticipated results. There was more to the system than the delivery of raw electrical power to the projector. Somehow within the microscopic systems something was done which modified the power in ways which they were so far unable to identify. They built copies of the projector and ran power to it in the measured amounts, but got only hot circuits.
The first breakthrough came when Kondor suggested that the projector might be more than had been recognized. Thousands of images had been made of the chips and components inside the weapon, but no one had yet considered the possibility that the projector itself could contain similar circuits. It had been assumed that since it was a high-power device, such microcircuitry would be burned out by the energy passing through it. Closer examination suggested that such microscopic circuits were contained in each plate of the projector, and a new theory suggested that these worked much as grids in a vacuum tube, using very low power to control the flow of very high power.
The second breakthrough came in wave analysis of the power output. Since the power was delivered to the projector in an instantaneous pulse, it had always appeared on the equipment to be a very simple surge of energy. The recognition that the circuits in the projectors were controlling this surge forced them to look closer, to record the energy surge at much higher speeds and slow it down for study. They found that within that seeming instant there were control currents alternating in well above the gigahertz range, at trillions of cycles per second in that flash of power.
As he began to understand the theory behind it, Kondor realized that he was going to need some very different skills if he was going to be able to repair problems with the gun in the future. After all, he didn't have a chip set, or a spare projector. Wherever he found himself, he would have to be able to make these things. Obviously that would not always be possible. Living on the Mary Piper at sea, the idea of making microcircuits would have been silly. But in a world such as this, he could in theory make replacement parts, if he had the skills. Thus he began studying the technology involved in this pursuit.
There was a big party one night. Apparently it was midwinter, and this culture like most others had a ritual holiday marking an ancient forgotten belief in a sun god returning to bring spring. It brought to Kondor's mind only that they had been working for a very long time on this project, and he had learned much. It was an event he might have forgotten, but that one of the technicians made the comment that they had solved the last of the problems and built a working popgun, a loud low power version of Kondor's pistol. They had grasped the concept.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #119: Character Projects. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: