Oh, this was fun.
Alley was coming aboard Enterprise for the first time, and somehow she asked me – me! – how warp drive worked. Now, I could have pulled the information out of my implant, of course, but they were still relatively new. I’d had mine a couple years, yeah, but it still wasn’t habit, like it is now.
Anyways, I didn’t think of it. I just pulled out my head the numbers which Cass had so-painfully taught me. Of course, me being obsessed with speed, remembering the basic numbers came easy.
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Multiple airlocks led to the saucer-shaped primary hull. Alley could see through portholes on the way, and was more and more impressed with each quick glimpse, though they had to move slowly due to Alley’s inexperience.
“You started to tell me dimensions.”
“Four hundred and five meters long. One hundred seventy meters across. One hundred twenty three meters from her keel to the highest point. Twenty-four decks.”
“And only requires seventy crew? How is that possible?”
“Heavy automation, and we’ve installed an Alpha AI in her for your core. Same as Diana, actually.”
“No name for this one?”
“Not yet; once we’ve completed the exterior, and everything’s attached, then we’ll wake it. Our cyber expert said that adding bits en masse to an awakened AI could be problematic.”
“The primary power source is an annie, so we can use just about anything. We’d prefer lighter elements because reasons. No, really, you’ll have to ask Cass exactly why, it has to do with reactivity and balanced flow. We have pair of Bussard collectors on the nacelles to gather in flight, they’re both connected to separators, so we keep what we want and dump the rest out the end of the nacelle.”
Alley frowned. “That could be an issue.”
“What you’re essentially doing is leaving a trail that’s going to show anyone with the ability to see it exactly where you’ve been and where you’re going.”
“Huh. See? Your experience is paying dividends already. Tell you what, we’ll ask Cass about that tonight too. We were talking about fuel. She also has a number of fusion generators for the sublight engine, shields, running power, and that means we also carry a fair amount of He3. I didn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket with the annie, so to speak, so she’ll still be able to move and function even if the annie goes down. No warp speed, though.”
“How fast is she?”
“That’s tough to say, since we haven’t run any field tests yet, only static tests at JPL. We should be able to achieve warp six.”
“And that means what?”
“Class is now in session. Warp factor one is c, the speed of light. Got it?”
“That’s the simple one. After that, every factor represents a speed that is c multiplied by the warp factor raised to the fifth power.”
“Why the fifth power?”
“Glad you asked that question. It shows you’re paying attention. The equation is v = cf5. V is speed and f is the warp factor. It works for fractions, too.”
“Yes, but why the fifth power?”
“Why is E equal to MC squared and not cubed? It just is; at least, that’s what the project lead told me when I asked her. So top speed should be almost 7800 times the speed of light.”
“It’s just over two light-hours per second. About five hours from here to Proxima Centauri. Ah, this is the right lock.”
Kendra checked the telltales, then keyed it open. Before them stretched about twenty meters of corridor, ending with another hatch.
“The ship is down there?”
Alley inhaled sharply. “Let’s do this.”