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Instar, the first fabricated planetoid, was created as a test base for the atmospheric gelShell.
The body of InStar was a solidified conglomeration of space trash. Collected chunks of anything flying around without an operating navigational control and beacon. Space traffic around Mars and MomE had increased so much in just those last few years that any man-made or natural debris in the orbital areas of MomE and Mars had become a danger to human, veg and silicon life.

At that time, to the widespread, powerful and more than somewhat fanatic organization, The Society for the Preservation of the Heavens, the outrageous plan to compact this collected space trash into a miniature planetoid was blasphemous indeed. The protectors of the Big Empty had been against the space refuge dumps that had been created by the original government efforts to clear the space ways. The MomE's newly created space navies built great armed and armored collector dreadnoughts powered by the tension between existence and non-existence. Out into the chaos created by the Philosophy Engine went the Earth Navy to collect criminals and all other kinds of space trash. Into their giant maws disappeared uncharted bits of comets, meteors, and asteroids, along with any bits blown off of a space criminal's fleeing spacecraft. Around Mars and MomE these mobile courthouses, jails and garbage trucks wandered without ever stopping.

The Society for the Preservation of the Heavens had protested this collection of naturally-occuring space rock as ultimately dangerous. They feared it could change the actual orbital dynamics of the solar system as a whole. A threat to all life. They felt the space trash was meant to be there just as an animal on earth was an integral, and required part of a healthy biome, Vacuum or MomE-like. So, the so-called space trash was needed to ensure MomE and the rest of the solar system remained habitable for humans, other aniOrgs and vegOrgs. Literally they believed the space trash was needed to maintain the balance of the solar system. The more fanatical and overtly religious-like fringes of this gigantic, two-planet, three moons and several asteroids, large organization that was composed of any self-aware entity desiring to spend time or money supporting their cause, spent countless hours pouring over mounds of data that grew into mountains as the organization’s software-entity members produced update after update as the millions of sensors the Society for the Preservation of the Heavens had spread throughout the solar system sent their endless bit-streams created by their endless recording of thousands of parameters of the solar system's planetary orbital inter-dynamics. Some of the un-heeded warnings of these very scientifically produced and evaluated reports on system-wide changes were amazingly similar to those found in E-historys of twentieth-century environmental scientists.

The easy availability of the P-drive made space travel a Model-T experience, finally. And, so the first rush to the Earth-Moon Lagrange Points, MomE's Moon, and Mars, and her tiny Moons happened in just a few astounding decades of huge expansion and creation of wealth. Then, a nearly intellectually depleted MomE stopped the flow with the 'no DNA export' laws that covered all DNA, alive, dead, walking or sessile, even DNA as data. The DNA amendments covered every living thing on the planet, animal, vegetable and mineral (as defined in the Humanity as Self-Awareness Act of 2033). A P-Drive only required a bit of Super Dense Material (SDM) surrounded by an Area of Absolute Nothing-Ness (AANN) to produce a spaceship drive that required no fuel as it created its own normal-space-time particles and anti-normal-space-time particles. (AANN[SDM]AANN  >  P, aP...). To the great benefit of all life in our solar system, the P-drive was just one application of the Philosophy-Effect Power Plant because depending on the configuration of the Super Dense Material and the Area of Absolute Nothingness was the type of normal and anti normal space-time partices output by the Philosophy-Effect Power Plant. The fact the Phi;osophy Effect Power Plant is ‘tunable’ you can create what you need, and with a little help from an updated version of Maxwell’s demon to separate the normal particles from the anti-normal particles anyone could produce a stream of subatomic or atomic-sized particle as needed, along with a more than incidental amount of free energy in the form of high-energy electro-magnetic waves. Artificial gravity became a reality, as did very fast travel. Both "artificial" gravity and anti-gravity could be manufactured as a stream of graviton or anti-graviton bosons respectively. Besides being used to counteract the effects of acceleration on the contents of a space ship, the suppression of inertia by anti-gravitons could be used to end catastrophic collisions between ships as anti-collision systems could cancel all inertia with anti-gravitons the gigantic masses of two great ships plowing their way towards each other at astronomical speeds would simply stop when their first atoms on their outermost shielding touched. Newer model Philospphy-Effect Power Plants could be tuned so finely as to produce just a single particle of any type.

Orbiting Mars, this big ball of space trash was hated. Literally seen as an affront to the natural order, and beauty of the heavens. In fact, incredibly sensitive instruments did detect what appeared to be changes in the orbital dynamics of the solar system. Then, to add to the enormity of the insult, along came James Harding with the idea of putting an atmosphere around the Earth's moon.
To test the idea, he proposed to permanently stabilize the chaotic clump of space trash. This would create a tiny planetoid. It would be large enough so that it would be possible to inhabit its surface, yet, small enough to serve as a test site for a totally untried mega-tech employment. By selling his services to rid the beleaguered League of ExEarth Settlements of their problem of keeping the space dump from also becoming a menace to space navigation as well as redirecting the attention of the League for the Preservation of , James Harding became the private owner of the single largest free-floating man-made object in the solar system. As they paid him handsomely to remove their problem, Harding's atmospheric gelShell project had the funding it needed.
In spite of active opposition, Harding completed one remarkable task after another. First, he buried an extremely powerful nuclear bomb at the center of this great ball of space trash. Then, with an incredible number of individual, conventional 'clean' explosive devices, Harding's NextEarthCorp formed a containment shell around the debris. A huge net of bomblets to hold all the loose pieces in place as the big one at its center tried to blow it all apart. Which is exactly what a lot of minds--animal, mineral, and vegetable predicted would happen.
At the last minute, the League of ExEarth Settlements was convinced of the idea's folly. As they rushed to stop the detonations, Harding proceeded, and succeeded.
The titanic forces he had unleashed crushed all those millions of loose bits between them. Temperatures and pressures rose, rock heated, melted, flowed together.
Slowly, a thick-walled ball with a hollow center, cooled, from the outside in, allowing preparations on its surface to proceed after only a few months time.
Again a net of explosives was created orbiting around what had become a tiny planet. Below that net still another was installed into orbit.
The outermost of these nets was not simply created to expand violently. It would spread out an almost living stew that consisted of an astronomically large number of nano-Fabbers, Grabbers, and Connectors so that they could construct their ultra-strong, yet terribly thin protective shell around the lifeless little world.
The violent chemical reactions of the inner layer of explosives was created not only to spread, but to also create the atmospheric gases that the nanoFabbed atmospheric gelShell would contain. The gases that would allow plants, and eventually humans to inhabit the baby planet's surface unaided.
Just as the timing of the two great explosions that created the tiny world was crucial, so was the timing required of the explosions that gave it an atmosphere. The tiniest bit of imbalance, and the gelShell would loose its stability, to rapidly tear itself apart. Billions of pounds of unbelievably precious life-giving gases gone, lost for forever to the Big Empty. All the effort to pass the tremendous technologic hurdles and life-threatening dangers, wasted, all in the terrifyingly short space of a few simple seconds.
Without a heartbeat of hesitation, James Harding had thrown the switch. And so, a bold new world was born. As soon as was possible an Unshielded Laser Fusion Power Generation Facility was placed in its hollow center. Later, an Unshielded Laser Fusion Power Generation Facility called the ExStar, was placed in orbit around the new worldlet that had become known as InStar. ExStar's specially tailored radiation, filtered, moved to more gentle energies by its own small gelShell, beamed benevolently down on the surface of InStar. The tiny star at the center of the new planetoid, so terribly dense, just a few short tens of miles from the surface, tugged gently at those gel-suited explorers, keeping them from drifting away.
Myriads of imported genEng'd plants soaked up the tailored radiation they had been bred to thrive on. They grew their logic cells that constantly gauged and optimized, then programmed their new generations as their roots reported their progresses to the Veg.Org.Net
Rapidly, they changed the carbon dioxide left by all those tiny explosions to the oxygen so needed by, "those that move". Bio-enged, the plants' roots dug steadily deeper, mining InStar's subsurface. Rapidly, the surface plants spread, Their cells busily nanoExtracted and nanoFabbed. Water vapor built up, condensed. It rained. SlowRained, in slowStorms. Still they programmed, shedding their armored cell layers, to blossom in greatly colored profusion. Buds formed that took on strangely convoluted shapes. There! A bud shook, vibrated, and with a sharp angry buzz, tore away from the shriveled dead remnants of the flower. To the air it went, busily, scanning for the bright reflections that signaled another flower. That meant food and gene exchange. Life free again from the genEng to seek its own adaptation to its new found home. And, quite possibly finding a queen to follow.

Weary from defending the delicate little world, but with a face bright with thought of the continuing challenge, James Harding looked down, past the infant place to the ancient Earth's tiny, but brightly glowing sliver of moon.


Next: Life on InStar

--Lee Skidmore



Copyright (c) 1996 Lee Skidmore