“What’s taking so long?” Jeremiel asked as he fidgeted impatiently and looked out the view port at the steamy world beyond Jack’s frigate. “I didn’t pay you to take me all this way just to poke around in the clouds.”
“Sit down and relax Jeremy, we’re 200 meters above the coastline,” Jack said without looking back at the indignant scientist as he studied the control panel in front of him.
“My name is Jeremiel, Sir,” the scientist said as he slowly took a nearby armchair.
Jack just laughed and continued piloting the ship. Beneath his casual demeanor, however, was one very nervous pilot. He had flown through the atmosphere of a gas giant once, but this was his first time to visit a high gravity “Super-Earth.”
“Captain Ostrowsky,” Jeremiel continued, “I studied the mission report from my colleague before we embarked and I don’t seem to recall the same level of difficulty you seem to be experiencing. Unless I am deeply mistaken, I should think that the gravity on Orbis would have presented an even greater challenge than what you are now facing.”
“Orbis is a gas giant and we didn’t have to worry about landing anywhere. Besides, it’s not so much the actual gravity that makes things challenging. It’s the combination of everything: the turbulence, atmospheric density, the fact that we still need to maintain an internal artificial gravity in order to avoid being crushed, it all adds up.”
“And you mean to tell me that Meios has more turbulence and density than Orbis?” Jeremiel inflected cynically.
“[fracking] biochemists,” Jack mumbled under his breath, “Jeremy, are you familiar with how electrical circuits work?”
“Umm, it’s Jeremie—“
“Yeah, yeah, Jeremiel. Well, Jeremiel, can you tell me why RC35 makes use of multiple power sources even though one of the colony hub’s fusion reactors could in theory power the entire colony?”
“Why of course, it’s because varying amounts of electricity are needed at a time, and if you have too much or too little electricity the energy grid collapses. Just what kind of knit-wit do you think I am?”
“A pretentious one,” Jack mumbled under his breath. “Listen, I never got to attend one of those fancy universities of yours so you’ll just have to bear with my flight school physics I learned back when I was in the military.”
“I’m listening,” Jeremiel said wearily as he rolled his eyes.
“Alright, so here’s how it is: all these hyperdrives and suspensors and artificial gravity systems and what not operate by using a bunch of crazy [****] that I don’t really understand, but what ultimately controls how they manipulate this crazy [****] is electricity.”
“So you are comparing the suspensors to resistors in a circuit,” Jeremiel observed flatly.
“They are resistors! And depending on how you want them to alter this ship’s potential energy relative to the planet’s core they require widely varying voltage changes for each acceleration constant.”
“So in other words you can’t just turn it up and down slightly and expect a smooth ride.”
“You got it. It’s kind of like one of those algebra graphs that used to scare the willies out of me back in secondary school, you know, the ones where they would just skip up without connecting like some kind of staircase or something? Well, this is kind of like that, but a little weirder.”
“Problem is, depending on the actual gravity of the planet these voltage levels get scrambled around a little, and it takes some getting used to.” Just then the visibility improved past the view port and they could see a beach 50 meters below them, as well as a number of floating life forms above the waters in the distance. “Say look, I think I see some of your Meiosians right over there.”
“Ballonts, thank you very much. And it appears that a few Steelwings are making a go at them. Finally, after all these weeks I’m looking at them with my own eyes.”
“Jack!” a Drallian crewmember shouted from another room behind them, “a massive thunderstorm is approaching from the southwest!”
“Alright, party’s over,” Jack said as he flipped a switch above him and grabbed a hold of his joystick.
“Don’t you [fracking] dare,” Jeremiel snapped at him, “I didn’t come all this way and pay you that much just so we could waltz out of here after five minutes.”
Jack turned his head and gave the scientist a hard look. “Dr. von Donnic, I admire your passion but my crew didn’t sign up for this and I can’t put their lives at risk.”
Jeremiel didn’t blink. “I’ll pay you double.”
“Deal,” Jack said with a sly smile and turned back to his controls.
“Everybody hang on!” Jack shouted. “I’m gonna land us in the bay!”
“Is he [fracking] crazy?!” a female crewmember could be heard from another room.
Outside the view port Jeremiel could see a number of ballonts descending into the water below.
“I bet it’ll be feast for those Steelthings,” Jack remarked.
“Steelwings,” Jeremiel corrected. “I have a feeling that they may be as concerned about the coming storm as their prey. It takes intelligence to chase after things, you know.”
“You can say that again,” the rugged space jock said as he smiled and lifted his eyebrows.
Flashes of electricity could be seen outside their view port and Jeremiel frantically asked, “What happens when we get hit by lightning?”
“Well first of all that stuff you’re seeing isn’t actually the lightning. It’s coming from our repulsors. When you change the voltages quicker than the comfortable range the area around that actual repulsors can sometimes heat up and act like a resistor, and those kinds of discharges are pretty common.”
“Okay, that’s nice, but-“
“Brace for impact!” Jack shouted over the loudspeaker as they reached the surface of the water. WOOM! The ship shook a little as it made impact with the ocean water below, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Jeremiel had expected.
The edge of the water could now be seen rising above the viewport and a few moments later the frigate was completely submerged.
“Alright, repulsors are off, but internal gravity is intact. At least we won’t be frying any of those critters you like so much with those discharges.”
“But aren’t you worried about hitting the bottom too quickly? This is a high gravity world.”
“This ship also has a considerable amount of buoyancy. We’re sinking, but I think we’ll be fine,” Jack said as he got out of his chair. “Computer, give me an update once we reach the bottom, and also when the storm clears out,” he then walked by Jeremiel and patted him on the shoulder, “Have fun watching the fish. I’m gonna take a nap. God, I’m tired.”