In Verse Proportion; Chapter 143, Kondor 221

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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 143:  Kondor 221
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Slade 212

Kondor noticed that Derek’s arrival had had a significant impact on the campus, in several ways.

The fact that he had landed, if somewhat awkwardly, a flying ship that could credibly be claimed to have been a spaceship spurred excitement about the airplane program, and the first prototype was airborne by the end of spring term.  Kondor remembered that the first flight for the Wright Brothers was about the distance of the wingspan of a modern commercial jetliner, so he was not at all discouraged by the short hop they had made.  They were airborne.

Many of the students understood that the fundamental concepts of the robot accompanying Derek were incorporated in that calculating machine on which they were working, and that kicked up interest there.  In fact, the interest in these two projects alone became so intense that the university was pressured into opening a summer term for the engineering department.

Slade put together a student team who managed to patch the triple hull of the spaceship.  They did not have a better way to test it than pressurized steam, but it did not seem to be leaking as far as they could tell.  It took Kondor a bit longer to realign the engines and get the power back online, but before the end of summer they had the ship hovering in the courtyard.  Derek was reluctant to take it outside the atmosphere, because he was not certain he could get back alive were the hull patch to fail.  They debated whether to test it by diving into a lake, but could not agree on backup plans if that was a problem.

Although the Dean was a bit bothered by the idea of a third pair of aliens in their midst, once the airplane was airborne he authorized the construction of a “nest” for Derek and Vashti.  Derek said they didn’t mind staying with the Slades, but Vashti said they had already over-imposed themselves on their hosts and needed their own space not only for themselves, but so that the Slades could have their space back.  Slade teased that he was jealous, because the Browns got all the latest advances in heating and plumbing technology plus electricity included in the design instead of added later, but Derek pointed out that the Slades and Kondor and Zeke had that emergency backup gaslight system if the power failed.

Everyone still took meals together several times a week, partly because it was less trouble to have one person cook for six than to have six people cook, partly because it was an opportunity for them to talk to each other in English and share thoughts about the world.  Slade, predictably, was expecting some kind of trouble, a war.  Derek was hoping to push their computer and electronics technology forward significantly.  Zeke was already overawed by what they had accomplished in a very few years.

In midwinter they unveiled their calculating machine.

It filled an entire room, with the controls and display in an adjacent room.  The heat from the transistors was such that they had windows open on both sides, but warmth still came through the connecting door.  Fans were going to be added in the spring.  The most problematic part had been the display.  The parakeet number system was more like that of the Romans than the Arabic with its place and placeholder system.  Their display used low-power lightbulbs to illumine symbols on a panel, and apart from the birds only Derek could read it.

Quite a few noteworthy birds attended the unveiling, including university officials, members of the government, and a few leaders of industry.  The bird operating it performed a few complex equations, including some suggested by the audience, then one of the observers commented.

“It looks to me,” it said, “that you’ve created a giant electric abacus.  It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth.”

Derek responded, in parakeet, “In a sense, you’re right.  We’ve built a bigger abacus.  However, it is already faster than any abacus you’ve ever used, and as we advance it will get smaller and faster and more powerful.  In fact--”

He pulled his laptop from somewhere and placed it on a table, powered it up, and started a video game.

“This is just one small example of what machines like that one can do.  Our mechanical man is another, and our spaceship uses these calculating machines to control its flight and operate many of its systems.  With the machines you will design and build that improve on this, you will be able to send birds to other planets.  This, hens and cocks, is the future.”

Next chapter:  Chapter 144:  Brown 244
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #456:  Versers Prepare.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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