Monday, October 13, 2014

Step Back - Part 27

October 12, 1969

It had been a relatively quiet week across the United States and around the world. The Mafia as well as the Teamsters and other unions continued to be frustrated in their efforts to infiltrate the Uptimer base in Nevada. And at the Baikonur Cosmodrome a Proton rocket with a Soyuz capsule as a payload was rolled out of the assembly hall to the launch pad as Colonel Leonov and Comrade Gorbachev watched.

In New York Mr. Black reported to The Committee of his failure to infiltrate the Uptimer base and to suborn a Uptimer or any employee on the base. As a result he would never seen alive by anyone again.

At 7 PM Eastern Time on Sunday in many living rooms and commercial lodgings across the United States millions of people sat down and waited in anticipation of that week’s broadcast of the 60 Minutes program on the CBS Network. With some interruptions for commercial breaks the program would begin with the history of the settlement of the Alpha Centauri system on the original timeline. For this broadcast Mike Wallace had interviewed Evelyn Boatman and others aboard the Eagle.

“How did your journey begin?” Said Wallace.

Boatman answered.

“From my perspective it began with two meetings at Cal Tech. The first was at the astronomy department which owned the Niven Deep Space Observatory, this was an automated platform which has built by our family firm.”

“Can you describe the platform?”

“Yes,” said Boatman, “The mission of the NDSO, which was named for science fiction author Larry Niven, was to detect and observe neutron stars. Which are stars that have burned out and collapsed into a mass of pure neutrons. It was at the meeting that Doctor Bob Petrov, the head of the project, told me that one of their objects, which was designated Niven-69, was on a course that took it through the Solar System.”

“Was it expected to hit anything?” Wallace asked.

It had been a long time since anyone had asked Evelyn Boatman that question.

“Mike, Niven-69 was what we call a neutron star, this is a dead star and it was roughly the mass of our sun. It simply doesn’t have to hit anything. The gravitational effect alone would have altered the orbits of every planet in the Solar System, including the Earth. The Earth would have been shifted from the life zone of the Sun to an orbit that was either too close or too far to support life. And the neutron star could have caused some of the planets to be ejected from the system entirely.”

“So did it eject the Earth?”

“I have no idea Mike, we had already left the Solar System long before the passage of the object.”

“So what happened next at Cal Tech?”

“I brought Bob Petrov to my next meeting at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The big project at the JPL was the Daedalus, an automated sublight probe that was originally proposed by the British Interstellar Society in 1975.”

“1975?” Said Wallace.

“Yes,” Boatman replied, “on the original timeline. As proposed the mission was to Barnard's Star, which was at the time believed to have some planetary bodies.”

“And did it?”

“We would eventually perform a test flight with the FTL Drive on the Eagle to Barnard's Star. All we found there was a small gas giant planet in the Neptune/Uranus class and some airless rocks.”

“So what happened at the JPL?”

“Our original target for the Daedalus was the Sirius system. After Bob and told the committee at JPL about Niven-69 they immediately decided to send the Daedalus to Alpha Centauri to find habitable planets.”

“And the Daedalus found two?”

“Yes, there was Eden, in orbit around Alpha Centauri A. And also Zion, which was orbiting Alpha Centauri B.”

At this point the digital images of the planets had been transferred to film for the program.

Wallace asked the next question.

“So once the public announcement of the existence of Niven-69 and the expected effects of its passage was made you went to work on designing the ships that would save Humanity?”

“Well, we would save some people, yes.” Said Boatman. “The first concept was called Exodus, it would use a derivative of the fusion pulse propulsion system used on the Daedalus. The. Daedalus had used two stages to reach twenty percent of the speed of light. On the Exodus the first stage would go to ten percent of lightspeed and the second stage would bring the ship back to zero. Most of the passengers would be carried in hibernation. Which was developed as a means to slow biological functions and save supplies during long trips to the outer parts of the Solar System. The expected operational ratio was nine years in hibernation and one year out during the length of the voyage. But as time passed new technologies were developed and incorporated into the design.”

“Such as?”

“The first was cryostasis, in this a person is cryogenically frozen and revived at the destination. This used radically less mass for life support and allowed a radical redesign to carry more passegers on the ship. The second technology was recorporation. Here a sample of genetic material is taken and the memories of the person are recorded. The person is than recreated at the destination. By trading off a small number of people in cryostasis for recorporation we were able to recreate a radically larger number of people at Alpha Centauri. Ultimately five units of the Exodus class were built and launched.”

“But that wasn’t all?”

“No, there was a radical advance in the technology of propulsion, the Quantum Singularity Drive.”

“Can you explain it?”

Boatman shook his head.

“I would be hard pressed to explain it to anyone with less than a current Masters degree in Physics. It’s that advanced.”

“Could it be described as magic?”

“Mister Wallace, there’s no such thing as magic, but there are some advanced concepts that require a high level of knowledge to fully understand.”

Wallace nodded and Boatman continued.

“Only two ships were completed with the drive, the Eagle, which was the prototype for the system, and the Mayflower. The other ships that were laid down were destroyed before completion.”


“We were rudely interrupted, the central government on Earth decided that they were to be complete control of all emigration from the Solar System. As a result all shipbuilding facilities not under their control were destroyed.”

“That’s insane!” Said Wallace.

“Yes,” Boatman replied, “so was Communism. On the original timeline Communist regimes had run up a body count of not less than a hundred million human lives. Apparently the rulers on the Earth didn’t care who lived or died as long as they were in command.”

Mike Wallace would ask another question.

“But there was one more ship that departed from the Solar System?”

“Yes, , there was. There were some indications that it had another name originally, but it arrived at Eden as the Integral. It was built to carry 10,000 live passengers but it only arrived with a bit over 2,000 aboard. When it arrived there was a fully communist society in place, a virtual gulag.”

“A gulag?” Said Wallace.

“I forgot,” Boatman replied, “that term is not in common usage at this time. A gulag is a slave labor camp established and run by the Soviet state.”

The next segment began with an digital image of the starship Integral.

This vessel had used the Orion nuclear fission pulse drive and it arrived roughly fifty standard years after the arrival of the five units of the Exodus class.

Mike Wallace began by introducing his next guest, Doctor Alice Boatman.

“Doctor Boatman, you were born aboard the Integral?”


“Can you describe it?”

“How does one describe a prison surrounded by hard vacuum? And it was worse than a mere prison. No one aboard had a name, everyone had an alpha-numeric designation tattooed on their forearm at birth. There was one exception, he was known as the Core of Humanity. He apparently led the overthrow of the original commanders of the ship and established the Communist system aboard. He then used the cryostasis system installed for extreme medical emergencies to preserve himself until arrival at Alpha Centauri.”

“What was your role aboard the ship?”

“I was initially used for labor within the ship. But when I was twelve standard years old the ship had arrived at Eden in the Alpha Centauri system and I was to be used as an object of sexual gratification for the Core.”

“What happened to him?”

“The Core was put to death upon arrival by a real government for rape and other crimes.”

“So you were adopted by Evelyn Boatman and his wife Doctor Cheryl Boatman, can you describe the experience?”

Alice sat back and thought, and then she answered.

“Up to that point I was not actually living as a person, I was an object to be used. And suddenly I was rescued by real soldiers and brought to a wondrous land, on the ground I was being taught how to be an actual person. To perceive and think and live as a fully human being. And I was eventually asked to choose a name for myself. MY OWN SELF! Under the wondrous circumstances I chose the name of Alice.”

Wallace nodded his head again and then asked another question.

“So how did your experience on the Integral influence your actions on the ground in Dallas?”

“With regard to William Grant?”


Doctor Boatman thought for another moment.

“It didn’t”

Wallace was apparently surprised to hear that.

“It didn’t?”


“Can you explain?”

“Yes,”said Doctor Boatman, “everyone in the field of medicine has encounters with irrational individuals. That’s simply unavoidable, and when it happens we must dispassionately treat such behavior as if it were another disorder, such as a cancerous tumor. William Grant was a very seriously irrational man. He saw himself as being exempt from the rational standards of law and personal conduct. At Parkland Hospital he physically blocked the transfer of a severely injured patient from transfer to the Eagle where she would have received advanced treatment.”

“Even though the patient was his daughter?”

“Yes,” said Doctor Boatman, “as he caused the injuries the notion of parental consent was already out the airlock. The individual was clearly insane, he saw other people such as his daughter as objects to be used. In this case it was a form of spiritual gratification instead of physical gratification as in the case of The Core. He beat Judith because she was actively thinking for herself. He was demonstrating his insanity by physically blocking egress and emitting an absolutely vile degree of verbal abuse. I asked the police officer present to remove Grant from the path of egress. When the officer refused to do so it had become clear that there was no functional government in place. We hold that in the absence of a functional government the authority to act with force reverts back to the individual. In order to treat the patient aboard this ship I shot Grant on the spot.”

The final interview fo the broadcast was with Judith Grant.

“Why did your father beat you?”

“Because I had an actually functioning rational mind.”

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