Chapter 4: The Simplicity of Choice is often a Farce
After much debate and consternation Navi was the only one of the 97 who refused to return to the vicinity of the Home Systems. Since they were abandoning the system they decided to give Navi all the property they were leaving behind; including immovable Dauntov Company assets and the Jump Gate once they used it.
Word of the imminent departure of the Frigate and the Corvettes had spread and everyone worked feverishly to get whatever ship they had Hyperspace ready.
The primary impediment for normal ships moving around in Hyperspace is Shielding; Hyperspace can be considered an Energy Storm Field. Therefore without adequate shielding ships could be bombarded by a storm of unpredictable energy waves. At a minimum a Class 4 Sim is necessary to continuously modulate the Shield to protect the ship from Hyperspace.
Navi found himself with a lot of contracts to upgrade shield modulation parameters on class 2 & 3 Sims normally used for normal space navigation. By stripping electronic devices of their processors Navi’s near Class 6 Sim Audacious could put together the crude pseudo class 4 Navigator. As for payment Navi had no use for money so he was paid for his labour in trade.
Navi’s plan was to dismantle the Jump Gate once everyone that could leave left then use the materials of the Jump Gate to build a crude HyperDrive. Navi wouldn’t be able to build a fusion reactor but he could use the Sun to power the HyperDrive. Audacious had used the crystals the Whisperers used to remake his bones as a template to design energy absorption crystals. Navi planned to coat the entire asteroid with the Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals.
It would take years to coat the entire asteroid with the crystals, and there wasn’t enough of the necessary materials in the Agrissa System, but all Navi needed was enough crystals to store up enough energy for 4 Hyperspace Jumps.
Navi needed materials to print the Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals and the only easily accessible materials of sufficient amounts within 100 LightYears were in the Radioactive Debris Field. Now that Navi thought about the Radioactive Debris Field is virtually identical to what remains of the Earth System; desolate and Dead. It now seemed obvious that a Space Faring Civilization was likely wiped out the same way the UEN had been destroyed. If Navi’s suspicions were correct the Radioactive Debris might hold more useful materials than he initially thought.
So while all the rich people were getting ready to leave Navi was already preparing Audacious by coating the initial batch of Crystals. The one thing Navi didn’t want was to stick around Agrissa too long once everyone left. Navi understood that once the navy left it would become the law of the jungle and that’s why the others from the 97 wanted to leave before the navy. Thus when his allies left Navi would have to work quickly to take apart the Jump Gate and make it into a usable Jump Drive.
When the departure date arrived almost all the ships left and Navi was left with mountains of abandoned material.
From clothing and wood Navi extracted Carbon from synthetic fibres since carbon was an essential material in the Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals. From electronic equipment Navi harvested processors, memory chips and other materials which he then smelted for the Sim to print and produce motherboards and processors for the Robots. Newly printed bots would make his harvesting of materials faster.
With everyone that could leave on their own gone Navi had already retrieved the Jump Gate and was now taking in apart on Audacious. When Navi saw the Navy ships assembled for departure he fired the Audacious asteroid thrusters for a slingshot manoeuvre around Agrissa ant take the asteroid Audacious into orbit around the local sun. Navi resolved to build the remaining Solar collectors en-route to the sun because he had to get as far away from Agrissa as quickly as possible.
Detecting the energy signatures of forming Jump Points a few days later Navi was now too far away for the Agrissa based drones to be a problem and he was relieved when he realized that a local gangster had quickly taken control. Under normal circumstances a gangster would be the worst choice but he was exactly the sort of character that would prevent a murderous free for all that would ensue otherwise.
It still didn’t mean that he would turn around and negotiate with the gangster because he knew that within rage of the Agrissa drones the gangster would hold all the cards; the closer he was to the sun the harder it would be for the local thugs to do anything about him. Even so; if it came to a fight Audacious was now armed with 15 Lasers and 7 Heavy Rail-Guns; more than a match for any of the adventurous lot.
The Fast orbit around the Sun Navi selected allowed Audacious to largely avoid the gravitational effects of the sun while being far enough from the sun keep the Radiations within safe limits. The 7 months he spent around the sun coupled with the 3 months it took to get there meant that he was dangerously approaching his minimal safety margins. Once the UEN fell Pirates would attack and raid lightly defended outposts and colonies before trying their luck on the large infrastructure.
Agrissa was far enough away that it would take at least a year for any pirate troupe striking out on their own to reach it. Navi knew all along that he had less than a year or face combat with a ship actually capable of fighting. Fortunately the testing Audacious had done on the Jump Drive were all positive and all he was doing now was accumulating as much energy as possible. Once Navi had gathered all the energy he could store he performed a slingshot around the sun to gain the maximum manageable speed and then activated the Crude Jump Drive and vanished into Hyperspace.
The trip to the Radioactive Debris Field took 11 months because even with a slingshot manoeuvre Audacious was not as fast as normal StarShips which would have reached the area in 5 to 6 months. Navi who had not been out of HyperSleep since the Company AGM he spent the time entertaining himself in Virtual Reality while Audacious built more Bots for the tasks ahead. Navi didn’t just sleep as most would because he was paranoid that something would go wrong and the Audacious would need him to make decisions.
Thankfully nothing went wrong and after jumping into the system Audacious performed a gravitational aero-braking manoeuvre using the sun and aligned a path that would skirt the Radioactive Debris Field without entering it.
Navi instructed Audacious to deploy over 100 probes into the Debris Field ahead of Audacious in order to locate all the crucial materials he would need.
The size of the Radioactive Debris Field was larger than Navi had anticipated and Audacious estimated that there had to have been at least 75,000 ships the size of Corvettes to account for the scale of Debris. It would take Audacious at least another 4 months to reach a position where it would be safe to start harvesting material.
The radiation was a problem which would pose a significant Hazard to human life so the handling of the material would be complicated. However knowing in advance made the problem manageable and an external Smelter had been prepared; the radiation would become the fuel for the smelter but that meant that it would take at least 10 years to process sufficient materials to coat Audacious with the necessary Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals.
Navi had Audacious do some calculations and discovered that if instead of processing the materials for creating the Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals but instead build enough External Smelters to cover the nearly entire external surface of Audacious it was possible to process a 500 times more material in a tenth of the time. Thus Navi instructed Audacious to allocate maximum capacity to External Smelter construction.
Once a Audacious started building smelters Navi sent out the drones to start recovering materials along the route Audacious would take. The armies of collectors set off to find and retrieve the target materials and Audacious would pick them up along its route into the Inner System.
Just 4 months later and Audacious was now constructing large scale industrial Smelters and Navi’s options had changed; he needed to be more ambitious. The reports from the probes indicated that there were enough of the right materials for thousands of Fusion reactors and jump Drives. So Navi decided to get more ambitious; he would transform the Audacious moving Asteroid into a ship on the scale of the Aaum Capital Ships. After all Audacious was already like a ship.
Audacious is 55km in length and 10km in maximum width; that meant that to be able to survive nuclear weapons its hull would need 150m thick top grade Oriculcum Steel. Best he could tell there was no Oriculcum in the system; as if someone had already harvest it thousands of years ago. Without Oriculcum the best option was to use the Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals but that would mean the Armoured Hull would need to be at least 1.5km thick.
Since Navi had already decided that planets aren’t safe he decided on making use of the Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals. The design Audacious came up with is a 75km in Length and 12km in Diameter Cylinder with engines at one end and a Cavity for consuming asteroids at the other end. It would be powered by 7 Fusion Reactors and possess 2 HyperDrives. It was a simple design meant to be easy to build using interlocking 1 cubic meter blocks of Black High Density Thermoelectric Crystals.
However before construction could begin the number of bots had to increase to 1.2 million and that meant that the Sim running them had to have the processing power of a Class 7 Sim. Thus the priority for the next 2 years became harvesting materials for Sim processors and memory as well as Robot construction. As always the expansion of the Audacious Sim happened at the heart of the Asteroid where it’s safe from all threats; including solar winds.
During this period low quality processor material not suitable for a Sim were used to build processors for bots; thousands of bots were building thousands of bots. With Audacious largely occupied with assigned tasks Navi got into the habit of remotely controlling multiple bots to harvest and smelt materials and before long he was unconsciously controlling hundreds of bots. Thanks to being in HyperSleep Navi had all the time in the world.
Once the Audacious Sim upgrades were complete Navi could feel a vastly different Sim through the Neural Link.
The 15 year project to Construct a new Audacious StarShip had begun.