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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ultralight Modular Planes (Alien World)

I dreamed I was a settler on a new world. The world was simultaneously smaller than the earth, so less gravity, and the atmospheric pressure was about three times earth's. An interesting combination in that it allowed for the carrying capacity of ultralight style aircraft to be quite substantial, or for sport aircraft to be very small. It also meant that one had to be careful breathing outside, as the carbon dioxide levels were low, and the oxygen levels were very high. Most of us wore a re-breather sort of thing that fed some of our own exhalations back into the intake stream. The air was so thick that even little kids sounded like Darth Vader. Our homes were built on the edges of our covered farms so that the carbon dioxide we produced would go into the air for the crops. It was a sort of joke that we were burning diamonds to allow our crops to grow. (The world had lots of carbon, but it was all locked up deep underground as graphite and diamond, so, yes, we sort of did burn diamonds.)

I was flying a modular ultralight cargo aircraft of my own design. There were several of them around, and they could join together in a larger structure, either wing to wing, or wing to tail. The resulting shape either added motive efficiency, or lift efficiency. One of the neat things about the air frames was the docking collars on the wings, they allowed all of the data sensors and control signals to be be shared with all of the craft, allowing the coordinated turning of the entire structure.

The wings also had a neat feature in that they were flexible in a way that allowed the airfoil shape to be slender (less drag) at lower altitudes, but become more "normal" shaped when climbing up higher in the atmosphere. The aircraft itself had helium in the wing cells, so the air frame was almost neutrally buoyant at lower altitudes (of course with the pilot module, engines and cargo frames, that was a mere technicality.) There was a launch assistant for the aircraft at ground level, I had painted mine up to look like a giant hand. Onlookers would see a giant hand launching what looked like a balsa wood model (my plane was painted to look like one of the first glider kits I'd ever put together as a kid.)

The cockpit of the aircraft was essentially a small aircraft, allowing the pilot to eject, and then glide or fly back to safety. Pilots of the cargo frames would launch and join formations, leaving their cargo with me to make the slow low altitude crossing, and they would fly on ahead to the receiving field where they would be re-united with a larger air frame. The shuttling pilots would sometimes make four flights or more for every one us long haul pilots made.

My job was actually pretty easy, as the navigation was fully automated. The engine and pilot modules were a blast to fly manually. Most of us didn't bother to spend the money for the automation of the pilot pod, since the bigger cargo air frame had plenty of automation, and airfield beacons were easy to follow. It was a pretty cool system. The planet was clearly smaller than earth, as the horizon's curve was noticeable from a few hundred feet up. The odd thing about the planet was the way the water and erosion worked. It was a much smoother world than the earth, and the thicker atmosphere was great for keeping the small sun's heat evenly distributed around the little globe. There wasn't much in the way of seasons, and about thirty percent of the time it rained lightly, usually just a few hours before dawn. (The rain was trippy, as it was slower than earth rain, but somehow felt thicker. Hard to explain.)

In the dream I was headed back home with a pyramid of six cargo frames, and looking forward to taking a turn around my city in my pedal-powered auto-gyro. (Made possible by the aforementioned combination of lower gravity and thicker atmosphere.) I was almost home when another pilot hailed me and asked to join up, it took several minutes to get the clearance and then, even before the systems had synchronized, he punched out of his cargo frame, darting back the way he'd came. The frame he'd attached next to mine was all white, but with long grey streaks across it. It had seen some better days. Almost immediately it began to trigger various structural and control anomalies. I cut it loose and brought it under the six then flew it into position to be towed behind, where I could cut it loose without damaging the other frames if needed. It was a risky move, seeing as how it was having control issues on its own. And at one point I thought I was going to have to abandon the pyramid to autopilot and manually dock the errant cargo frame. Once I got it slotted in, I was able to shut off its engines and leave its controls just neutral. I would have to manually compensate for it, but it wasn't anything I hadn't practiced hundreds of times. I was a little annoyed that no one had warned me before taking it on, so I strongly urged the receiving station to take it off line for repairs. While I was doing that I started to hear deep chirping noises. I realized they were coming from the gimpy air frame. It made me remember the legends of the rare flying lifeforms that had lived here before the terraforming efforts. Usually, they were part of a sort of modern ghost story, and were used to explain why airships (efficient even if slow) and collections of air frames occasionally vanished without trace. I suspected most of those were either fire, or just plain made up. We were never out of touch with ground control, if there were lots of disappearances, you'd think we'd just be able to look them up.

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