The Poseidon Gambit Preview Excerpt

Copyright Copyright Joel Lovell and Iron Crown Enterprises Ltd © 2018

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"The smell of the air spilling out of the vessel, felt as a gentle breeze, has a refreshingly cool, crisp feel to it and carries just a hint of burnt metal - an odor that astronauts swear is the smell of space."

The Poseidon Gambit Preview Excerpt

Player’s Introduction: Off to Ring City

The ground station is a sprawling metropolitan sized hub of transportation. A constant litany of Spanglish, Federation Standard, and various alien languages persevere over an intercom system that announces connection information to maglev trains and transit hubs to and from the vast network of gravitic craft that travel across various parts of the planet, including the other five space elevator terminals on the equatorial line of the earth. The elevator terminals are located in places such as Kenya, Indonesia, the Pacific and other areas that previously held little attraction, primarily because they were in the ocean with no land present, but because of the precise interval of the 60 degree longitudinal location chosen for the space elevator terminal were now anchor points of commerce and travel as well as space tethers stretching to the sky. The passenger concourse loads 4,000 people, and tons of cargo in the span of a few hours into the lift vessels, which ride the beanstalk to the orbital station. Your arrival is just in time to see the gigantic Brazilian lift vessel BL1-Orizaba silently break through a rain cloud, triggering a shower of water as it descends the elevator cable system. It locks into its docking bay and seven massive hatches open at the loading ramps.

The smell of the air spilling out of the vessel, felt as a gentle breeze, has a refreshingly cool, crisp feel to it and carries just a hint of burnt metal—an odor that astronauts swear is the smell of space. This cool dry air contrasts with the stifling humidity of the tropical air of the Brazilian rain forest that extends for hundreds of kilometers around the equatorial location of the space elevator. The lift module and beanstalk, the first in a series of six such massive engineering marvels which moves millions of people a year and many millions of tons of cargo to Ring city, is bigger than the ocean going cruise ships of old, and takes only a few hours to reach the hub point of the earth-encircling station. At this moment, thousands of people are moving about the concourse, awaiting passage to the even more spectacular Ring City. Air transport of every conceivable variety and size travel to and from the hundreds of platforms and hangar like structures processing the traffic and goods loaded and unloaded in every direction.

The entire process of the security check is actually an ongoing one, a combination of biometric sensors, AI drones, chemical analysis of breath, sweat, retinas, surface fingerprint scanning, remote cameras with facial pattern recognition that measures the skull and bone density and even random human security agent intervention. On-going because the process starts from the moment a person books passage and begins traveling to the elevator terminals and continues even during the ride up to Ring City. This technology is not all geared to omniscient monitoring, some protects humanity from pandemic infection—such as what is found at the molecular level of the surface areas of handrails, doorways, seats—all designed with micron sized needle points invisible to eye and touch that puncture and destroy bacteria and disease carrying microbes as hands and fingers touch surfaces. Massive AI clusters monitoring activity and identity, heart rate and respiration, and analyzes the air for the presence of toxins, chemicals, biohazards and drugs. It is a formidable gauntlet for those with criminal or political backgrounds. A wanted fugitive would be quickly singled out and apprehended if they appeared in most public places. There is a sizeable presence of armed Federation Station Security out in force, in greater than usual numbers.

The ride up is so well compensated that there is no sensation of movement. You find yourself finally moving out of the heaviest traffic areas to an outer section of the building to a lounge like area whose windows reveals a panoramic vista of the areas outside of the terminal station onto a street, much like any metropolis. The first thing you notice is that gravity is 2/3 Earth normal. Then the massive buildings rising high above command your view; then you see below the crowds of people flowing to and from the hub to transit substations and gravcabs and other transport. The sprawl curve upward is not discernible from the ground. One might expect to see a forever uphill, gradual rise in the distance—the opposite of a horizon. Instead, the view is that of any other large city and far away in the distance, a light ribbon wider at the base quickly tapers to a thin strip that vanishes into the sky. The 256,000 Kilometer tube is too massive to discern the curve of the horizon with the unaided eye. Clouds part and high above, impossibly difficult to take in, is a visible curve of the cylinder walls of the Torus that is Ring City’s 50 Km radius. The haze and diffused light of a midafternoon sky obscures much of the detail, yet the wink of thousands of vehicles reflecting light high above indicate moving traffic some dozen kilometers above you. Vast stretches of terrain in rectangles of wilderness, crops, seas and lakes checker the walls of the torus shaped station, testimony to the massive achievement of not only humanity’s brightest but also the concerted efforts of tens of thousands of coordinated AI resources spanning the entire solar system. Stretching out into the distance these rectangular sections of vast fields of agricultural and forest areas generate breathable fresh air for the billions of people living, working and travelling on station. Ring City would have bankrupted the economy of every country on earth if not for the sheer magnitude and scope of the engineering effort which, like nuclear fusion, produced as a by-product of innovation, development and construction a mega-economy that catapulted the participating governments and corporate investors behind the massive project into an incalculably high return on investment.

You can see open areas are reserved for the streams of pedestrian traffic—people and aliens going back and forth from the disembarkation terminal. Trafficnet coordinates all Air-cars—private, commercial, and military into orderly patterns of vertical and horizontal movement high above and all around hundreds of towering buildings that flank the many multi-leveled concourses before you. People also go below surface to the many high speed tube transports which service the entire Ring City—a network of people moving transportation that at its fastest ‘Express’ level can transport you to the opposite side of the ring in a matter of hours.