07+: Canyons and Plasma
Nabbed from some grey market dealer, the pile MAG had been sitting in the corner of the hanger looking untidy. They were not supposed to have it but there it was. Then Hiro, for reasons known only to him, machined it into rings, big ones, and Jimmy had been eying them off ever since.
A mid col native, Jimmy Jones, ‘Overclocker’ to everyone that knew him, had been messing with power plants for as long as anyone could remember. When he started Jones Dynamics, it seemed the logical place for him to ‘go’; as everyone would agree, he did not have the right temperament for the mines. But those that really knew him would say the whole Jones Dynamics thing was just an excuse to keep racing – by now most privateers realised they were unable to match pace with the pros and ‘retired’ but with his company behind him, Jones was able to keep up… just.
For months Jimmy had been messing with trying to get a small fusion plant to work, not as a commercial idea but as an up on his competition. He figured if he nailed it, the plant when combined with what Hiro was calling the H6 Drive, would make him unstoppable. But keeping the fusion plasma under control, that was the issue. Sure, it’d been nailed centuries back for industrial sized power plants but finding enough magnetic force on a small scale, that was another story.
It was late one night when he had the idea. He’d heard what MAG could do when enough current was pumped into it but cooling, that was the issue. As such, it was mostly relegated to being an inert alloy or used in experimental labs across the system. But after two decades of designing and developing power plants though, Jimmy knew more than most when it came to cooling shit down, and that’s how the idea popped in his head.
Taking a liquid nitrogen jacket of the type they were fitting to mining rigs and embedding it into the rings Hiro had machined, Jimmy found a way to cool the MAG from the inside out. It was stupidly simple but took his unique experience to piece it together. From there it was as simple as A, B, C.
Jimmy mounted the rings to surround the reactor toroid, which he then flash started. But before it could turn into a molten mess, and the workshop to a charred hole in the ground, power was siphoned off to charge the MAG which in turn stabilised the plasma – a process that ultimately became known as the ’Jones Jump’. With a way to get the reactor running and stable, Jimmy was able to rig it and, unbeknownst to Hiro, the serpentine H6 Thruster to his racing rail. And he was ready to rock and roll.
Or so he thought.
Jimmy had a habit of not listening to Hiro when it came to anything to do with racing and a week later, three from the start line, Jimmy and his rail vanished in a blinding white flash. The exact cause was never really worked out though Hiro, Jimmy’s long time 2IC, guessed the whole setup was just too powerful for the lightweight rail and it simply lost control and hit the wall; seeing it was all effectively just strapped to the chassis, there was no way the reactor was not going to rupture on impact… and that was that.
Hiro Tokoyama took over the lead at Jones Dynamics and managed to reverse engineer what Jimmy had done, ending up with the’Jones Orbital Reactor’, or JOkR as it became known, within a year. As the H6 was already Hiro’s pet project, he continued the work and it went on to become the Expansion Drive. Together, these two systems pushed mankind deeper, and further, into the void than it ever thought it would go.
And made Hiro a very rich man.
With origins firmly rooted in the grey market racing scene, 'rails' started as nothing more than adaptations of lightweight mining scouts. Built in corners of worksphops, raced on weekends, the Canyon racing scene grew to become one of the largest competitions in the mid colonies.
As the demands for speed and environmental adaptability increased, driven by the growing professional teams, specialist designs began to appear that had little, if any, relation to the original rails, eventually ending up with 'Asymmetrical Thrusters'... or flying coffins!
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A collection of hard science fiction tales written and illustrated by Gerard Thomas.