May 14

This is how to travel and watch film… via airship

In book 2 of my Quantum Entity trilogy, airships play a role not only transporting people, but massive amounts of cargo too.

These airships dwarf the Grey Goose shown in the above video.

Here’s a scene from American Spring where Ellen Brooks and her entourage are boarding an airship out of San Fran en route to Auckland… Ash3r is an artificial agent, a quantum entity capable of enormous calculation. Mary is Ellen’s BFF.

The US has become the Commonwealth of the United States (USC) after Ellen led a revolution there; she has recently replaced the former POTUS, and is taking a holiday, a first for her:

The San Francisco
Aerodrome, SFA, is almost beyond description. It’s connected to the TGV which
is now running pretty much everywhere in northwest and southwest parts of the
Commonwealth and Canada and will soon connect back east to Denver, Albuquerque,
Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston and the loop through San Antonio, Austin and
Waco back again to Dallas. Work has started on a line to Kansas
City, St Louis and Chicago and Commonwealth engineers are
working from east to west to connect the Montreal-Boston-NYC-Miami run to the
main system. They already link north-south with Mexican, Central and Latin
American lines.

The Aerodrome is so
big they have to locate it northeast of Livermore Municipal
Airport about 45 miles
east of downtown San Fran. Commonwealth engineers put it there because it is
just about the only piece of property in NOCAL they can find that’s big enough
to host it and where there aren’t a bunch of Bay area NIMBYs (most of them
lawyers) who’ll tie them up in endless and meaningless environmental reviews.
It’s also flat enough and gets them away from coastal winds.

Their bullet train
connects to Livermore through Oakland but can’t achieve anywhere near top
speeds until they steam past Hayward so it still takes a pain-in-the-ass 30
minutes to get there. Cupertino is closer but
the trip takes longer cuz they have to zig zag through Hayward to get there.

SFA is bigger than the
Casa Poporului in Bucharest,
the previous record holder as the largest civilian structure in the world. Romania’s
Palace of the Parliament was built by crazed dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu when he
bulldozed nearly a third of their historic city to construct this worthless
piece of junk. It’s almost 900’ long, 800’ wide and 280’ high. It is sunk
deeper into the ground than it is high so a paranoid dictator might be able to
survive foreign invasion, nuclear strike, attacks from his psycho wife or,
finally, torch-holding, pitchfork-wielding, Frankenstein-hunting citizens of Romania.
It doesn’t exactly work out as planned for Nic, shot as he was along with his
wife by an elite paratroop firing squad after a short military trial for

But SFA is bigger even
than the Pentagon, the heretofore biggest ever, which is a puny 1,414 feet
long. SFA, in addition to its passenger terminals, has JIT (Just-in-Time)
intermodal freight forwarding facilities that supply the Valley to the
southwest. Airships from Imperial China, India,
Canada, Latin America, the
AU, Germania all nest here bringing things and
taking things and people too. It’s the busiest port in the Commonwealth which
means the busiest anywhere.

But the building,
despite its enormous size (over 3,000 feet square), is dwarfed by Airships
parked there, one of whom, the Princesa Agnes, is the destination and future
home of Ellen, Mary and entourage for the next two and a half weeks.

“Ash3r, you booked us
on the Agnes, how nice,” says Mary.

“It’s not named after
Ellen’s Mom if that is what you are thinking,” Ash3r says. He is ‘walking’ next
to Mary and Ellen with his funny freckled face smiling in Mary’s direction. He
is human scale at this time. Ellen and Ash3r have decided not to talk about his
transition but at the same time they’re not hiding the fact that QEs can
materialize in RL. It’s happening everywhere anyway with all QEs now.

“Well, if not, it
should be. She is quite the gal.”

“I agree,” he says,
“but the ship is named after Agnes of Denmark, youngest daughter of Eric the
4th and his partner, Jutta of Saxony. Agnes was the first abbess at the Convent
of St Agneta in Roskilde—”

“She was a nun? Ugh,”
Mary says.

“Well, not by choice,”
Ash3r says.

“Smart girl,” Mary
says smartly.

“Agnes and her sister
were forced into nunnery by their uncle who deposed their father in a rather
bitter intra-family dispute. Basically, unk wanted to take both of their
estates which the girls were entitled to.” Ash3r has started to use all kinds
of slang and diminutives. Ellen loves him for it. It’s so cute.

“Typical of MEN,” Mary

“Well the girls had
the last laugh. They left the convent in 1270 and spent at least the next 20
years managing their Dad’s properties.”

“What happened to
their uncle?” Ellen asks.

“They offed him using
a clever poison,” Ash3r answers.

“What type of poison
did they use?” Ellen asks.

“Planning a little
palace intrigue yourself, Madam President?” Mary asks insouciantly.

“They used a variation
of Mithradatium, named after King Mithridates of Pontus, or more fully Mithridates VI
Eupator, also known colloquially and appropriately as the Poison King. He was a
Turkish rival to Rome
circa 120 to 63 BC. It had 54 secret ingredients—” Ash3r is interrupted again.

“Way more than the
Colonel used to poison people,” Mary says laughing.

“Quite,” says Ash3r,
shutting up because he’s a bit miffed now.

Ellen can see his
feelings are hurt so she asks, “He reigned for a long time—almost 60 years. How
did he do that?”

“He poisoned his
enemies. He even poisoned family members. He’d invite them over for a bite; he
would eat with them. Then they’d all die.”

“Huh?” says Mary.

“He practiced
Mithridatism. He would ingest small daily doses of Mithradatium to develop
immunity. It’s a plot device used by murder mystery authors such as Agatha
Christie and William Goldman.”

“What did Goldman use
it in?” Ellen asks.

“The Princess Bride.”

“Thought so. I saw
that old film!” Ellen says. “It was great!” Mary can see that her friend is
super excited. She supposes it comes from the fact that this is her first
holiday since she was like 19. Ellen is 34 now. Even Presidents, Mary thinks,
deserve some R&R once in while. Heaven knows she needs some recuperation

“I’ll bet old
Mithridates didn’t die of old age,” Mary adds.

“Correct. He was
defeated by Pompey and tried to commit suicide using, what else, Mithradatium
but it didn’t work cuz he was immune to it. So he asked his Gaul
to run him through with his sword before Pompey could capture him. That
worked,” Ash3r says.

Dekka is motioning
them to an elevator the size of a hangar. Ellen is traveling with a small
security detail, much smaller than usual. She has insisted on it. They’re
flying on the Princesa Agnes to the North Island of New Zealand with stops
along the way and afterwards too.

The elevator is empty
of everyone except Ellen and her people. It takes them up through one of the
gigantic shafts to which the Princesa Agnes is moored in its even larger nest.
Agnes is rated to carry 1,787.5 tonnes at altitudes up to 6,000 meters. That is
more than two and a half times the load capacity of the largest commercial
airliner of her day. Because air pressure at 6,000 meters is just over half
what it is at sea level, carrying capacity would be a lot higher if they flew
at attitudes less than 1,000 meters but then they’d be in the weather and when
airship airlines carry passengers, they want to get above most of the
troposphere. It’s way less bumpy up there.

CASCO (China Air
Shipping Company) which operates the largest airship cargo fleet flies them
practically at ground zero—skimming them across the planet using ground effect
to reduce transshipment energy requirements to almost nothing and, more
importantly, increasing carrying capacity to more than 4,000 tonnes. These
cargo carriers have a nose that is bulbous, its underbelly is concave and its
stubby wings all work together to create maximum surface effect.

Of course, every once
in a while, they get caught in a downdraft and a slo-mo crash ensues. The pico
carbon tube skin of these things is practically impenetrable but they have been
known to nose dive into the ocean and front flip. Since these airships are
nearly 2 kilometers long, even a slow ass-over-teakettle rotation will crush
every piece of cargo inside. If you are a human being and unlucky enough to be
in the tail when it happens (‘riding the caboose’ it’s called), you will end up
being pond scum on an interior wall.

When that happens all
crew members die. CASCO just illegally dumps cargo and crew into the ocean and
refloats their ships in the sky. Hey, it’s recycle and reuse all the way.

The elevator ride
seems to be taking forever.

“How far up is this?”
Mary asks.

“The Princesa is 80
stories high,” Ash3r says. Mary’s never been on one of these things (neither
has Ellen) and her eyes go wide.

“Wow. How many people
on board?”

“It depends on how
much is reserved for live load (by which Ash3r is referring to human beings and
their baggage) and how much for cargo,” he says.

“Well on this ship,”
Mary says.

“Just over one million
kilograms including crew.”

“Ash3r, I think what
Mary was getting at was how many people not how much they weigh,” Ellen

“They never disclose
how much people weigh. Women especially seem to feel that such information is
privileged. It’s an aggregate weight ship’s officers are seeking to ascertain.”
Neither Mary nor Ellen is concerned about weight. Mary is a wiry Irish lass who
eats like a man and never gains an ounce. Ellen is a good eater too and far
more curvaceous than her BFF but also seems not to gain much weight. Whether it’s
yoga or genetics she is not too sure. Maybe both.

“They use nano scale
scanning to assess volume and density as well as to search for guns, chemical
weapons, explosives, malware and contraband. Of course, nano scale cannot
detect the presence of Quantum phenomenon,” Ash3r adds inscrutably.

“People, Ash3r,

“About 8,000 including

“No way!” Mary

“How much cargo?” the
ever practical Ellen asks.

“About 747 tonnes on
this trip,” he says.

Agnes, as the ship’s
name suggests, is built at the Odense Plads (Space) Shipyard in Denmark. The
entire thing is extruded—basically grown from nanosites linked to a generator.
Human and QE involvement is limited to designing the thing in the first place
which requires knowledge of software arts and keeping the generator supplied
with power and nutrients. Watching these things grow in time lapse is
absolutely amazing. It’s reminiscent of a caterpillar spinning its cocoon. It
is almost entirely silent and there are no more welders, riveters, cutters, joiners
or metal bashers needed in Odense
although, after the superstructure is completed, finishing carpenters and a
zillion other trades go to work on its interior.

They could extrude all
their furnishings and fit up too if ship designers wanted to but so far they
haven’t figured out how to make them look and feel any better than being
inside, say, a wasps’ nest. Passengers might not like being ensconced in an
alien space like that—they might have visions of HR Giger-inspired creatures
attacking them while asleep.

CASCO uses a major
Korean chaebol to extrude their airship cargo carriers. They don’t worry about
design elements—they want cheap not cheerful.

Mary, Ellen and Ash3r
have a cabin at the bow of Princesa Agnes. It’s the premier place on this ship.
‘Cabin’ is absolutely not the right word for it. Stateroom is also completely
inadequate. There are four bedrooms, two on either side of a living room that
is gigantic. It has its own dance floor, conference center, private dining
area, several seating zones, theater, prep kitchen and way more.

Mary is dancing around
the place singing her happy song. “This is ours, all ours for THREE WEEKS.”
Close enough.

Mary has her own room
with queen size bed and furniture that looks like Ellen picked it out—massive
but made of lightweight modern pico scale materials not ancient hardwoods that
Madam President stocks her own home with.

Ellen has a huge
bedroom to herself—it is obviously the master. It looks like an old fashioned
boudoir which would not be out of place on Titanic. Mind you Titanic is pretty
teensy compared to Agnes which (Ash3r informs Mary) is 36.763 times the volume
of Titanic. Agnes is so huge that she is 2.81 times bigger (by volume) than
COSCO’s (China Ocean Shipping Company, CASCO’s sister company) newest F-class
container ships which can carry 32,000 (20-foot) containers.

“Ellen, Ash3r, come
here,” Mary says excitedly. “Look at this!”

Mary is looking at an
international instructional videographic that is playing on a small section of
their media wall. It shows a person of indeterminate gender pressing a button
and experiencing a state of wonder. So Mary presses it and a transparent
membrane starts to lift across the entire front portal of their living room.
The room transforms into a balcony, open to air, sea and sky. Mind you they
haven’t taken off yet so they are still inland but Mary can imagine skimming
over the Pacific Ocean, smelling and hearing it, for more than 10,000
kilometres all the way to Auckland.

All three of them
stand there mesmerized by the sunset.

Mary doesn’t watch the
end of the video which, if she did, would show the membrane shutting at 1,620
meters. Wouldn’t do to have their guests pass out due to low pressure or
develop high altitude pulmonary or cerebral edemas so the whole ship is
pressurized once they’re mile high.

@ quantum_entity

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.