ROGER: The Story of a boy and his space ship.
by C. H. Day
All rights reserved
Several Years earlier
Steve looked over the test reports on the mono-crystal plates. George's son, Roger, was next in line to buy reject plate and this batch was just right for him. It was also too good to send down for that ship being built by, "that" government in low earth orbit. Last time he'd sent down a shipment this good they had accused him of doctoring the report. His entire career depended on his being known as an honest businessman. Right now his lawyers were on their way to a good profit from that government with, hopefully, some left over for him.
Roger looked at the report on the plate. The cover sheet was stamped in big red letters; "Rejected for use in United States Space Craft," causing him concern but his father just said. "Steve said it was ok. Buy it."
Later when he had the time Roger read the complete report. The cover sheet stated, "As the sample results show a deviation from the previously supplied material that exceeds the standard tolerance the listed plates are rejected." Followed by someone's illegible signature. The reports as best as he could figure out stated just the opposite. This plate was the best possible.
At home after they had unloaded the plate he showed his father the report and asked if he was reading it wrong.
"When you are dealing with large groups. You will find a few smart ones but many who are very good at blowing smoke. I think Steve was dealing with a smoke blower and decided to blow it back. Their loss is your gain."
Roger anxiously waited for the arrival of the inspector from Home Base. He had spent most of his teenage years building this ship from scrap pieces he scavenged and what he had to buy was acquired with money he earned helping his father mine the asteroids. Now he was trying to get a little sleep. While his mind raced through all the checks he had run before plunking down the money for the inspection. Had he missed anything? No matter how many times he thought through it he always felt that the inspector would find something to keep his ship rock bound.
Startled awake he caught himself before he hit the other wall in his room. The warning alarm had sounded. The tone indicated a slow moving object was with in the rock's danger zone the pitch and volume increased with the speed of the object and chance of hitting. Diving out the doorway then executing a quick kick-turn he arrived at the communications set to find his father all ready there hailing a ship. Seeing Roger enter he stopped and said, "Better get dressed and meet your Inspector at the air lock before he looks over my ship too hard."
Roger stood out of the way as the lock door swung inward his had resting in the cubbyhole containing the door override. Inspector Jackorn did not enter the inner door of the airlock instead he stood with his identification offered and waited.
Roger took the identification and after glancing at it said, "Inspector Jackorn please enter."
The Inspector replied, "Thank you I have come to inspect Roger's ship."
"That's me, what do you require."
"Hi, Jim-Jack, how's things going at HB?" Roger's father had slipped up behind him.
"Hi George, I wasn't sure rather it was your voice or not over that old set."
"Well, it still works so why get a new one. After you have done your job let me know. Donna will have a meal ready, whether or not you pass the ship. Roger, I suspect the Inspector would like to look over your ship now why don't you take him there."
The Inspector nodded in agreement and Roger lead him down the tunnel leading to his work cave commenting only when the looped rug ended at an inner air lock leaving them without any foot holds, not even noticing the light panels coming on just before they floated through an area and dimming off as they left. His mother had insisted that it be a good distance away from the living area in case, as she put it, he tried to blow up the place and his father had done just that including installing a precautionary airlock. His workshop was in a little out cropping of the asteroid they called home that his father had wanted to get rid of long ago.
Entering the large cavern he and his father had excavated Roger asked. "I sent copies of the test reports in with the inspection request. Should I go get a portable viewer with the test reports for your use."
"I have all ready looked them over. I will let you know if there is a need to double check something." Inspector Jackorn said walking around the cylindrically shaped craft about 40 feet long with a clear hemisphere at one end and rocket motors at the other. Brackets extended from the top and bottom of the hull and the sides were studded with various tanks and other things. The only clear spot was around the hatch up by the clear end allowing room for a universal docking collar to seal up. It was obviously a ship designed for working.
"Would you open the ship and we'll start."
Roger unlocked the hatch and grabbed a tool pouch.
Five hours later George entered the ship saying, "Jim Jack, if you don't want Donna mad you'd better take a break and have dinner before it's burnt."
"Great idea." Was the reply from inside the ship.
As they cleaned up Jim-Jack turned to Roger and said, "After we eat you can remove all the outside covers and we'll pick it up there."
"Ok." Was the only reply Roger could muster. The thoughts in his head were of the week or better of work replacing all they had removed inside.
He remembered Andy telling him that if an inspection took over three hours he was going to fail and the longer it took the longer the work list. Andy should know his father ran the only ship reconditioning service near Home Base.
Entering the garden room Roger was surprised by the feast his mother had laid out. She was short, as was his father if they were compared to their son who had spent virtually his entire life to date without the benefit of gravity. They had been born, along with the Inspector it turn out, on one of the space colonies in orbit around earth but had left for the new frontier. The meal went quietly for him as the elders talked about who was doing what now along with playing the game all elders seem to know, "Do you remember when?"
Finishing early Roger left the table to get a head start on the covers. Jim showed up a little later starting right in. It only took an additional two hours before Jim turned to him saying, "I'm done let's clean up."
Roger unable to contain his eagerness any longer asked, "How bad is it? Can I do enough repairs to get it certified?"
"I'm not really sure let me review all my notes. Then I'll let you know. I left my transcriber in my ship." Looking at his face Jim added, "Don't worry I won't leave before I tell you the answer!"
The second time George meet Jim at the door without formality and ushered him in saying, "Roger is on the edge so if it's bad news take it easy on him."
"Don't worry George, anyone who does the quality of work I inspected will do ok."
Roger was waiting in the lounge cave with the rest of the family, even the twins were floating around awaiting the news. Jim crossed over and passed Roger a card then said, "That is your provisional operating license when you get the craft outside let me know and I'll come back and we'll finish up." Seeing Roger face light up followed by a quick drop he added, "Don't worry the rest was included in your fee. All this inspection was is to clear you to get the craft outside. When you do that I'll be back and we will light it off and hopefully fly it around a little."
George approached Roger and congratulated him. Turning to Donna he started to say something but saw she all ready had the cake and drinking bulbs out. Looking at Roger he said, "Get the flying license and we'll pour the good wine."
Jim spoke up, "I hope that includes me. I remember you as always having a good drink around George."
"Of course you'll be included and then we'll tell Roger about some of the stunts the two of us pulled."