This section covers how George, Marita and Kerstin take a holiday.
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Move To Lagrange Five
George, Marita and Kerstin soon found that Undepoldus had arranged every part of their journey to Lagrange Five.
Kerstin asked. "What should we pack for the holiday?"
George said. "You do not need to pack anything. All you want on the journey and at Lagrange Five will be supplied. At Lagrange Five you will only need a formfit and a helmet. Several of Marita's size vacuum suits will be available for any jaunts you might want to make outside. You could take the communicator that Gurprit gave you. You could then keep in touch with Superintendent Abdullah and Anita if you want to. Otherwise you do not need to take anything with you. I will take this vidbook but I have no need to take anything else."
Marita said. "We will have a health check here before we leave and another at Mogadishu Spaceport. The two checks are to make sure that we are not carrying an infection to Lagrange Five."
Kerstin said. "You two take it so casually. You seem to be treating it as normal as riding on a strip."
George said. "Kerstin, do not worry. I was a bit nervous of my own first trip into space. The service between Mogadishu and Lagrange Five is as routine as a sub-orbital flight. I know that you have been on at least two of those."
Kerstin said. "I can't get out of my mind the pictures I saw in books when I was small. There were all these rockets loaded up with hydrogen and oxygen. They made a great deal of noise and lifted off very slowly."
Marita said. "Mogadishu has a twenty kilometre take-off track. It takes around forty seconds at two and a half gee to cover twenty kilometres. Then, after less than a second, acceleration continues at around 2 gee for eight and a half minutes. Then gravity disappears. The gravity compensators reduce the take off gee to around one and a half gee for the passengers and provide one third gee for the rest of the journey. Altogether it takes around ten hours from Mogadishu to Lagrange Five. It takes around three hours to get to Mogadishu from Heathrow by sub-orbital so our travelling time will be around fifteen hours altogether."
Kerstin asked. "When do we leave?"
George said. "Undepoldus scheduled us to leave here at 14:00 to board the sub-orbital at 15:00. We will have time for a meal at Mogadishu because our trip to Lagrange Five leaves at 20:00."
Kerstin said. "It is now nearly twelve and we have not had our medical checks yet. Isn't it all a bit of a rush?"
Marita said. "You will have to get used to our ways a bit more Kerstin. We are taking the slow route for non-urgent passengers and goods. The quickest route takes only eight hours. You must remember that our transport is provided by our own organisation. Scheduling is normally by the most suitable route on the earliest available transport. Undepoldus may have invoked Asimovian protection for us to obtain priority but the Lagrange Five scheduled trips are seldom full."
Kerstin said. "The Spacers League must have a good reason for not filling ships to capacity. It must cost a lot in resources to have empty seats."
George said. "Kerstin, you have learned a little about Marita and myself and you have seen how talented other Spacers are. The Spacers League values us much more than ships or bases. Resources are provided to suit us. We do not have to fit in with what would be available in an Earthbound organisation. You will see when you get to Lagrange Five something that most non-Spacers could not imagine. We have massive factories there that are almost completely operated by robots. Robots mine the materials we need and other robots transport the materials to the factories. We can make everything we need except a habitable planet. Our only costs are in human time and energy."
Kerstin asked. "Where do you get all your raw materials?"
Marita laughed. She said. "In a sense we have them thrown at us. There are millions of minor asteroids and rocks floating around in orbits that intersect the Earth's orbit. We have robots to locate them and other robots to collect them. Still more robots sort them and send them to the factories that can use them. Most rocky asteroids contain a large amount of carbon. It is one of our favourite elements. We use it to make coatings, fibres and coins among other things. Your formfit is made of carbon. Undepoldus House is protected by carbon. All our ships are coated with it."
Kerstin then asked. "What about air and water, how do you get those?"
George said. "There is plenty of water locked up in comets. Some of them are almost all water as ice. Water is an excellent fuel and it provides the oxygen we need. The sun provides us with all the electrical and heat energy needed to process the raw materials into useful products."
Marita said. "There are a few things that we cannot make in Space that we import from Earth. You like coffee and tea. So do we. You might like a glass of wine or beer or a piece of cheese. We can grow most things but we cannot duplicate a good claret or a Belgian fruit beer. We cannot keep cows in space so we have to buy all our dairy products. We grow our own cereals so we can make bread and pasta. We also grow all our own vegetables and a lot of fruit. We could live on what we produce in space but we would miss Camembert cheese and Parma ham.
You will see when you get to Lagrange Five that the major difference between there and here is the gravity."
Kerstin said. "Undepoldus talked about the way the prisoners love to watch Spacers playing basketball on Lagrange Five. He said something about a force and variable gee. What was that about?"
George said. "I can tell you what it is but you will have to experience it yourself. The recreation area is on one of the big wheels at Lagrange Five. The wheel turns slowly and creates a sort of gravity so that the outside of the wheel feels downwards. If you run the same way as the wheel is going round, you will feel heavier. If you run the other way, you will feel lighter. If you could run fast enough, you could feel weightless for a few moments. The basketball court goes round with the wheel so Spacers running towards one goal feel heavier and those running the other way feel lighter. In the low apparent gravity, you could easily jump three or four metres into the air. There is a problem with this when you are on a wheel in space. Your body is going around at the same speed as the outer rim of the wheel. When you jump, you jump towards the centre of the wheel that is effectively going round slower than you are. If you could jump high enough you could either land at the other end of the court or out of the court altogether. The basket ball does funny things too. If you want to pass it to one of your own team, you have to throw it differently depending on the direction. If it is with the spin you must throw high. If it is against the spin you must throw low."
Kerstin asked. "If you can jump three or four metres, it would be easier to put the ball into the basket wouldn't it?
Marita answered. "The basket in Spacer basketball is horizontal. There isn't enough gravity to make the ball fall fast enough through a conventional ring. We use a hole in the wall at either end of the court. A weak vacuum pump pulls the ball into the hole if it is moving slowly enough with the correct trajectory. The hole is set back from the end of the court to prevent tall people like you and me just putting the ball into the hole. The Spacers' game reduces our advantage in height."
The three had no problems with the medical checks and took a floater to Heathrow as soon as they had had lunch.
The journey to Lagrange Five was routine for Marita and George but Kerstin treated it as a big adventure. They slept through most of the journey and woke in time to have breakfast at Lagrange 5.
Kerstin was soon able to experience for herself the strangeness of the artificial environment. Her injury was healing well and she was able to undergo the low gravity training that Undepoldus had referred to. Kerstin was not alone on her course. She was accompanied by students from the Spacers College. She enjoyed their company as they went on field trips around the Lagrange Five complex. The students continually questioned her about her adventures with Marita, George and Undepoldus. She was amazed at their knowledge of things that she knew they were only seeing for themselves for the first time. Although she was familiar with the easy familiarity of being with George and Marita she was unprepared for the way she was assisted with personal hygiene. She soon learned the advantages of mutual assistance at hygiene stations in low gravity. Kerstin was also able to test her formfit in vacuum and was able to discover for herself why Spacers wore formfits continually.
Kerstin had begun to accept the massive nature of the Lagrange Five complex. Some of the field trips had taken her twenty kilometres away from the main residential wheel. She had seen massive enclosed factory structures where space ships were built and the enormous hangars where completed ships were stored. Nevertheless she was unprepared for her visit to a wheel designated 'Experimental Duplication of Earth Normality'.
At first she thought that it looked somewhat like many of the other wheels she had seen but then she realised that it was many times bigger. It was made up of a lot of concentric wheels. It was only when the flitter was just about to dock that she could begin to realise how big it was. One of the students with her said it was more than seven kilometres in diameter. The transport from the hub to the rim took several minutes. As it did so Kerstin felt that she was becoming unbearably heavy. A display showed the gee force gradually increasing towards one gee. At the rim Kerstin was able to understand the way Spacers played with acronyms. The guide said that the protection was extremely secure and the visitors could discard their formfits for a while. A door opened to reveal a delightful view. It was a beautiful park. Exquisite beds of flowers fringed by shrubs made it like a paradise garden. She then understood why it was called EDEN. Kerstin found herself to be one Eve among many with a lesser number of Adams. The grass beneath her feet was short and springy. It was a bit like a bowling green that needed cutting. As she walked she saw natural looking ponds with ducks and swans swimming in the water and other ponds with fountains. The gardens were evidently a favourite spot for the Spacers who lived and worked at Lagrange Five. Some were walking along hand in hand and one or two couples were sharing companionship. Kerstin then became aware of bees buzzing and the chirping of crickets. Several species of birds added their songs and calls to the idyllic atmosphere. Then, quietly a broadcast sound system announced. 'Will all the visitors on tour three please return to the hub. ' Kerstin and her companions reluctantly took a last look around the gardens before making their way back. Kerstin wondered how she could fit in to the marvellous community that the Spacers had created for themselves. No ruler had ever achieved such wealth as the Spacers could display. Some of the students assisted her with her formfit as she prepared for the return to the hub. One of them, Makkura, noticed Kerstin's tears.
She asked. "What is the matter, Kerstin?"
Kerstin answered. "I am not a real Spacer but I have been treated like one because I look like Marita Andersson. I know that she will not always need a bodyguard so I wonder what I will do when I need to find another role for myself. After seeing the paradise here, I wonder how I can fit in with all the talented people who make up the Spacer community."
Makkura said. "Do not worry Kerstin, all of us feel like that when we first realise what it means to be a Spacer. Here at Lagrange Five the extent of the complex is overpowering if you are not prepared for it. You have to remember that Spacers are just ordinary people who have learned skills. You are young so there is plenty of time for you to learn a new skill that is useful to all of us. We have had lectures by your friend Boku Adedeyo. She showed us by example that anyone of us can learn a new skill after becoming a Spacer. The skills that you already have are useful anyway. Your knowledge of laws and your ability to deal with people are an essential requirement in a police force. You have already shown that you accept duty as a fundamental aspect of your work as a policewoman and as a bodyguard. I am sure that the Spacers League could use your existing skills in handling non-Spacer relations. Most of us are graduates from universities who have not had a full time non-Spacer job. None of my year would know where to start with police work. What you have told us about your work with Marita Andersson, George McFigg and Undepoldus shows that you can deal with being a policewoman and a Spacer as a routine. When a man pointed a gun at you on the strip you did not say that you cried out or burst into tears even though you were not wearing your formfit. You waited, trusting that there would be a time when you might be able to do something. That takes a lot of self control. Your police training probably helped you then. You are here because you confronted another man with a gun and he shot you. Then you overpowered him and carried him to the police station. You do not have to worry about being a proper Spacer. You have already proved that you deserve the rank of Lieutenant Commander."
Kerstin's tears flowed even more freely now. She was overwhelmed by Marukka's comforting words. She hugged Marukka because she had no better way to express her gratitude. Marukka's classmates showed their approval of her speech with remarks like "Well said Marukka," and "Hear hear."
Another student, Antar, said. "Marita Andersson must know you pretty well by now. You said that she treats you like an equal partner. You must know that Marita is regarded as one of our best Spacer role models. You must be exceptional if she treats you as her equal. One day, when your job as bodyguard is over, you will no longer be in Marita's shadow. You will shine as Kerstin Broberg, the Spacer who has a double called Marita Andersson. In a year's time you will contact me and tell me I was right."
Kerstin had recovered enough to answer Antar's comment.
She said. "Thank you Antar and Marukka. You have both made me feel much better. I would like you to meet Marita and George later. We are on British summer time. We will have dinner at 19:00 British summer time when Spacers on Pacific daylight saving time are having lunch. We will be in the recreational space next to the dining room at 20:00 British summer time."
Kerstin's spirits were also lifted as she and the students returned to zero gee at EDEN's hub.
Later, George and Marita were happy to agree to meet the students from the College. Kerstin recounted her impressions of EDEN and asked if George and Marita had visited it. George had but Marita had not. It was built while Marita was out of the solar system. Marita suggested to Kerstin that she might like to do a bit of light sailing while George visited some of his friends.
The three found that time passed quickly as they sampled the facilities available. One day was taken up with a trip to the moon. Kerstin tried her hand at Spacer basketball and found that she had a lot to learn about variable gravity. She tried to call Superintendent Abdullah several times to get news of progress but was unable to make a connection. When she tried to find out what had happened to the prisoners she was told that they had been moved to Moonbase Three. Kerstin found that she was becoming increasingly desperate for news of the investigations but each avenue she tried provided no answers.
When the three had been at Lagrange Five for a week they were surprised to see a familiar face approach them at breakfast. It was Gail, one of Marita's students.
Gail said. "Hello. I trust that you have had a relaxing time here. We have just arrived. We are a bit tired because we travelled through what would have been our day. Shortly you will meet your friend who shows no signs of tiredness. He will tell you all that has happened during the last week. Isn't low gee wonderful? It makes me want to jump for joy. We will see you later."
Gail did not wait for a reply. Her presence alone told its own story.
The next section covers a reunion of friends.
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