Unedited snippet of Family Law #3

The scientist whose name was a long genealogy to put Gordon’s true name to shame for length was setting up another ‘burn’. His associates called him Pretty Purple for short. As often happens the nick name embarrassed him, but stuck. His co-workers and friends understood it meant the bioluminescent spots on his hide had a particularly pleasant hue in the purple phase. It also was very appealing to the females of his species. They often gave a little involuntary pink flash of appreciation, which in turn made him flash a little yellow pulse that was the equivalent of a human blush.
It was an honor and the peak of his career to work in the world’s premier materials lab. The only one running three gas chambers protruding through the top of the sky into the heavens. It could be dangerous. Early workers had received some nasty burns trying to observe the electric arc directly. Some got careless about staying wet. Protocol now was for an assistant to count off time and douse the researcher with water at regular intervals. If left to their own devices the researchers tended to be absorbed in their work and lose all track of time. To the point it was a stereotype now.
The chambers were a vast improvement on the previous platforms that were simply a floating collar defining a port on the heavens. For reasons nobody had yet explained sometimes the light from the sun diminished and actual water descended from the heavens. But nasty pure water lacking all the elements of life. Indeed if one stayed in contact too long it irritated the skin. Just one more hazard.
Obviously, if one was running an electric arc to test and alter materials, water falling on the experiment at random from above was disruptive if not catastrophic. The sealed environment had its own challenges. Workers found that the thin substance of the heavens expanded when heated by their experiments. After the first isolation cell burst they invented the pressure relief valve. To avoid a long dangling tube filled with heaven stuff keeping the cell inflated they invented the water lock. Life sustaining water was pumped in between sealing doors that could be opened in sequence to pass traffic while keeping the cell inflated.
To stay wet workers and assistants worked in a pool lowered from the entry door. Even then water slowly lost the ability to sustain life. So time in the bubble was limited. The newest bubble had pumps not only for the water lock, but to exchange water in the bubble for fresh from below. It was exciting to work with the fancy high tech gear every day.
The intense heat of the furnace reduced almost all organisms to the black element of life. That it was also conductive amazed and delighted them. Some substances such as the silty bottom from various sites altered to a hard but brittle substance when heated. Those were not conductors. Other minerals when heated with the black element of life yielded malleable materials. They tended to corrode, but both kinds showed great promise for making things.
Some were quite strong if only they could be made not to corrode away like the prized bright yellow nuggets or the silvery grey found naturally. Pretty Purple had rings of both displayed on his longer tentacles. He was paid pretty well. Other materials showed less promise for now. Some of the yellow deposits from around the deep vents stank so bad when heated that the cell in use had to be abandoned for some days. The researcher doing that burn had to flee and the arc was disconnected remotely at the generators.
Pretty Purple’s older brother held his work in derision. Rippling Dots was his unfortunate childhood name. He no longer had problems controlling his enthusiasm. Indeed he had turned absolutely solemn after being selected to the priesthood for being eldest. He reveled in the privilege of the religious vocation. Pretty Purple was relieved beyond measure that he had escaped it by being younger.
Rippling Dots was currently babbling at him every time they met about strange new lights in the heavens. That they didn’t follow the rules any previous lights did failed to impress Pretty Purple. They were still just lights above the sky. The idea that they had any influence on his life was something he rejected, although he didn’t make too big a point of saying so. The priesthood had many followers and much influence.
When his brother went on a long complicated rant about how his success or failure followed the small moon twenty day cycle or the four hundred day solar cycle, or some multiple or division of them, he just flickered a faint mauve show of interest. Believers saw patterns everywhere whether there really were any or not. There was never any shortage of numbers to apply after all.
The crucible was packed with an interesting green mineral and life stuff. He’d recently been experimenting with adding the salt extracted from the water of life. It would be a tenth day before his assistants got the generators all hooked up and up to temperature. So he left the electrodes unhooked and went off for a midday meal before the day’s burn. There were some red stripe swimmers in the lunch pen yesterday. He hoped maybe a few were left.

7 Responses to Unedited snippet of Family Law #3

  1. Nick March 14, 2015 at 12:13 am #

    Ooooo another species? Fun!

    Any further word on April 6?

    • Mac March 14, 2015 at 4:07 am #

      When Sarah Hoyt gets squared away for me. Really can’t fault her.

      • Nick March 14, 2015 at 8:44 am #

        Is her boy okay?

        • Mac March 14, 2015 at 10:48 am #

          Their medical is all screwed up. She is sure he has a torn tendon. I say kid but he is 20. I didn’t have a lick of sense at 20 myself. If they go to emergency and it is deemed unneeded they pay $2-3K. They just moved, are paying two mortgages until they sell the house they left and can’t take the hit. She said their system is flooded and overloaded from Obama care. He can’t get in to be seen until Thur. the 19th. She goes in for surgery the 16th and knows she will have a significant recover. I suspect I’ll get my cover then because she’ll be going nuts from the inactivity. I intend to pay her double for the cover because she doesn’t charge enough – they can use it – and I have it easily. I don’t really need any of my book sales to live on.

  2. Nick March 14, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Being from Canada, I find the whole US healthcare system to be crazy.

    I have had fast service here in the States but it was painfully expensive even with what I’m told is a good insurance plan through my work. I don’t really understand why it costs so much more here and why they can’t esitmate the cost of services. It feels like a giant scam to me.

    When I called in and questioned my bill with the hospital they took 30% off!

  3. Duggan Matson March 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    I know how hard medical can be in the states, it is really frustrating and I hope it all turns out alright.

    Though on a selfish note, this upcoming week is spring break for me and it would be the best time for me to sit down and enjoy the book. The next free chance I wont be for a month or two down the road. I liked the guys idea that said release it now with a temp cover and then re-release it once Sarah comes up with the cover. I can totally understand why you haven’t done that, but like I said, its spring break and I feel selfish since this semester has kick my but so bad. Hech I would be happy for an early release copy and then just buy it again once its published. I enjoy your stories enough that I want to pay for them

  4. Terry Dean March 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    I love the Family Law series and can’t wait to see the reaction when the Little Fleet returns home. You know Mars is going to go bonkers at the news, especially about the Caterpillers.

    One thing I wonder, is the new planet Providence likely to become a contact point, like the Badger frontier planet the fleet visited, between the different society spheres? It wasn’t made clear, but it seems that the Class A living world is well out on the necessary side of the explored space sphere . This could seriously speed and expand the frontier world’s development as a waypoint and contact site for expeditions between the two regions. And make Lee and Gordon even richer!

    Also, it will be interesting in later books to see the Little Fleet 2.0. Once Lee gets her improved higher speed vessels, I wonder what ship types will make up the new expedition. Will she build a DSE support ship, essentially a long range hardened freighter, to carry the extra supplies, hydroponics, shuttles, and drones needed for deep space exploration?

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