Béla was on the bridge, again, mostly searching for a distraction from the problems in her life that she was having trouble solving right now. She was surprised at how calm she felt after spending an hour crying into Elaine’s shoulders. She smiled as she thought about how much Elaine loved her. Even though her blond sister had been aroused and frustrated, she hadn’t forced her needs onto Béla despite the fact that they often made love several times a day.
After arriving on the bridge and volunteering for an extra watch, Béla soon became fascinated by the events occurring around her and was glad she'd volunteered. She held on to the handrail at her station while the great ship shuddered and heaved as it slowed. They were making minor course corrections almost constantly as they aimed at the North Pole entrance of their new home.
Passing from outer space to inner space, the shiny surface of the metal moon vanished as the great ship moved into the pitch-black maw of the artificial moon’s entrance. As the entrance spiraled closed behind them, the distant stars disappeared from the rear view screen and they were surrounded by utter blackness. Nothing happened for several minutes.
“Are we still moving?” Béla asked nervously. “What if we hit something?”
Her father and the several of the Bridge crew simply smiled at her.
'Peace, Child,' she heard in her head.
Béla forced herself to stand still, staring intently at the forward view screen covering the front of the bridge, then blinked in surprise as a long crack suddenly appeared in the blackness. The multicolored light that shone through the crack soon became a landscape as the interior entrance widened.
The great ship shook slightly as wind and vapor visibly rushed into the huge chamber. After a few more minutes, the ship began moving forward again. As they exited the enormous chamber, bright sunlight began to fill the side and rear view screens. As the ship moved further into the interior of the artificial moon, the rear view screen began to show the outline of a giant glowing crystal off to one side, just next to their entrance. Béla’s father explained to her that the crystal was collecting sunlight, then amplifying it using radiation from Jupiter, itself, and diffusing it across the landscape.
"Jupiter radiates?" Béla asked, surprised.
"Of course it does, Child," Sibilius told her. "There are stars smaller tha Jupiter and they radiate quite a lot. Jupiter simply hasn't been compressed enough to ignite, or it would be a star, too."
Béla had never seen anything so beautiful as the view they had of the landscape surrounding the great ship. The viewscreens were a panorama of greens, browns and whites in every direction – forward, up, down and sideways! The rear viewscreen displayed a very bright white, overloaded by the glare of the giant solar crystal lighting up and heating the interior of this magical place. There was a giant crystal embedded into the surface at the ‘South’ pole, too, but because of the inclination of the tiny moon, the South Pole was still on the ‘night side’, so the Southern crystal remained unlit.
“What’s all the white stuff?” Béla wanted to know, gazing raptly at a screen.
“Some of it is clouds, Child, but most of the white you see is snow,” her father said. “It’s been winter here for the last five months. We had to time our journey to arrive in the early spring, so that we can plant the grain we’re carrying.”
“It’s like the Garden of Eden,” she said, staring at the viewscreen in awe. “This is like a new Eden.”
“Then that’s what it is, Child,” her father told her, “We'll call it New Eden.”
Passengers and crew, he mentally broadcast to the entire ship, I welcome you to our home – New Eden!
After another twenty minutes of travel, the great ship arrived at the gravitational center of the hollow moon and ceased its forward motion.
A great commotion of movement occurred with the opening of the massive cargo bay doors beneath the great ship. Propeller driven platforms were being taken out of storage to be used for moving cargo to the surface. There were depots at both the ‘North’ and ‘South’ poles, located near the giant crystals because the centrifical force that substituted for gravity inside this hollow moon was weakest at the poles, being virtually nonexistent.
The solar powered platforms would be used to move the contents of the great ship to the ‘South’ pole currently as the ‘North’ pole was inaccessible because of the proximity and radiated heat of its giant crystal collector. For the next two months, the propeller driven craft would constantly travel back and forth from the ship to the surface, unloading as much as possible before the Southern crystal began to shine.
After that, both crystals would be active for the next three months, halting all traffic to and from both depots. After the Northern crystal ceased to shine as it entered the night side of the little moon, cargo transfer would begin again – this time to the Northern depot. Two months after that, and for the next five months, the sunlight from both crystals would be extinguished by Jupiter’s shadow, ushering in the long, cold winter night.
There was virtually no gravity anywhere inside New Eden. Once away from the artificial gravity of the great ship, objects and people tended to continue traveling in the same direction at the same speed as they left the ship until they impacted against the inner surface. That was the theory.
The reality was tempered somewhat by the hurricane velocity winds between the great ship and the inner surface; especially near the equator. Centrifical force pressed everything against the inner surface, just like gravity. The greatest centrifical ‘pull’ was at the equator. As cargo was unloaded at the poles, it was either stored or reloaded into rail cars and given a shove down a chosen track toward its final destination, the rotation of the moon propelling it toward the equator. As each rail car neared its destination, automatic brakes would be applied, slowing it until it stopped at the end of its track.
There were rail tracks leading everywhere on the inside surface. Each rail car was equipped with a small electric solar powered motor to enable it to return, empty, to the polar depots. There were also tracks running around the equator so that once the produce or equipment was in the gravity well produced by the moon’s rotation, it could be transported easily to another location, if needed, using the rail car’s solar powered motor.
Shortly after the cargo bay doors opened, Béla arrived in the hold, volunteering to help. Before the births of her sisters, the cargo bay had been her second home, where she had come to work off both her claustrophobic anxiety from being penned in where she couldn’t fly and her frustration from being the only sexual creature on the entire ship at the time. As a result of her nocturnal visits, she knew where a lot of the cargo was.
Using the tether her father had made for her, she aided in moving some of the smaller crates through the opening in the bottom of the ship. Then, because she was the only winged person on the project, Béla was given the task of retrieving cargo pods that were starting to float away before they were strapped to their landing platforms.
Béla spent an exhausting hour and a half retrieving her first runaway pod just using her tether and her own wing power. Most of that time was spent straining on the tether, flapping her wings as hard she could, just getting the six-ton pod to stop floating away and go where she wanted it to. After she managed to secure her wayward catch to a landing platform, she mentally contacted the overseer and gently suggested a different scenario for her to work in.
Image: Using one of the smaller landing platforms to aid her, Béla flies to the runaway cargo pod and attaches a line from the platform. The runaway pod is then winced in by the landing platform and secured to its deck. Then, using the POWERED landing platform, the cargo pod is taken to its destination, or secured until the next landing platform going to the surface was ready to load.
As she broadcast her images to the overseer, she picked up from him that he had actually sent her on a snipe hunt to get her out of the way of the unloading project. The crew assigned to the project was so concerned with their princess’ continued safety as she flitted around and between the huge floating cargo pods, that their work effort was being hampered. Aside from the fact that everyone there loved her, Béla was the Regent’s favorite daughter, and her continued safety was of paramount concern to them all.
Fuming, but not wanting to appear ungrateful for their concern, she again requested a small landing platform for retrieving runaway cargo. Privately, she also sent the overseer’s concerns about her ‘safety’ to Elaine, Beth and several others whom she knew would feel the same about being so ‘protected’.
The overseer assigned a powered platform to her and an operator to run it. It only took twenty minutes to catch and retrieve the second cargo pod that had floated away. Béla rode the platform back, holding on to the outside railing that protected the operator.
As they returned, Béla could see a dozen tiny flying figures darting in and out amongst the cargo pods floating beneath the great ship. She laughed as she felt the exhilaration being broadcast by her sisters as they tried out their wings for the very first time.
Work on the unloading project had halted completely for fear of accidentally squishing one of the fragile, winged princesses between two floating cargo pods. The work crew watched them flit about, sharing the elation the flying princesses were broadcasting. They were naked and free and outside the ship for the very first time. Béla mentally connected herself to everyone in the cargo bay area.
'My sisters are flying around above the great ship and using the weak artificial gravity that leaks through its hull to lie on its surface and bathe in the sunlight from the giant crystal sun. The work crew is unloading cargo to send to the surface.'
The idea seemed to occur to everyone at once. The flutter of naked, winged figures and female laughter traveled from beneath the cargo bay and disappeared in several directions. Elaine, recognizing the source of the ‘idea’, flew out to meet her roommate and cheerfully rode back to the cargo bay, hanging onto the platform railing with her.
“I notice you’re feeling better!” Elaine shouted as she hung on against the wild wind caused mostly by the giant propellers.
“I just needed something to do,” Béla yelled back, realizing that what she said was true – she was having fun, now.
By the time they arrived, the work of unloading cargo had resumed. Elaine wanted to stay and help, so Béla convinced the overseer to assign Elaine a platform and an operator. Between them, they retrieved sixteen more cargo pods over the next three hours. Then the overseer informed the princesses that all the pods were accounted for. The two sisters flew inside and headed for the communal baths, exhausted and sweating, but happy.
They were too sweaty and dirty to wear anything, so they simply walked, naked and carrying their clothing, to their destination. Béla invited her sister to share the private shower stall her father had installed for her, as they didn’t want to get the bath water dirty that everyone used. Also, it was a lot more private and had its own thought dampening field generator.
“It smells so wonderful out there!” Elaine was saying excitedly, as Béla turned on the water spray. “I’d forgotten what ‘green’ smells like. I just wanted to spread my wings and sail through that wonderful smell all the way to the edge of the world!”
“That’s what you would have found, too,” Béla told her. “The edge of that world is traveling hundreds of miles an hour. The fierce winds between here and there would tear your wings off.”
“Miles?” Elaine asked, confused.
'1.6666666666666666666-to-infinity kilometers, Darling,' Béla thought at her, grinning.
'Oh. Is that a lot?' Elaine thought back to her sister.
Béla pulled Elaine into the cold spray surrounding her, laughing. Elaine shrieked in shocked surprise, then hopped out from underneath the icy spray. Béla stood with her arms folded, forcing her body to look relaxed and comfortable as the cold water rained down on her head.
“What?” Béla asked, innocently. “You don’t like my shower?”
Bracing herself against the cold water, Elaine stepped back underneath the spray and rinsed herself off, her jaw clenched and her shoulders hunched against the frigid assault on her senses. Then, Béla turned the water off and they both jumped into the warm waters of the communal baths, shivering.
Béla stretched out in the warm water, letting the bubbles coming up from the bottom caress her sore arms and aching back. She expanded her awareness into the great ship to see if anything interesting was happening. She didn’t consider it eavesdropping to pick up stray thoughts that others were broadcasting. With a telepathic race, if one didn’t want something known, one didn’t broadcast it.
Elaine followed Béla’s example of floating in the bubbling water. Béla suddenly emitted a burst of mirth, then quickly suppressed it. The thought dampeners didn’t allow the burst to be emitted beyond the communal baths, but Elaine felt it. She looked at Béla, wondering what was so funny.
Béla sent her the image she saw.
'There are at least twenty naked bodies piled on top of each other having sex above the ship. Father is really annoyed at the commotion they’re broadcasting. He just finished aiming two thought dampeners at them and is getting ready to turn them on.
'Okay, now, they’re on. Poor father, all my horny little sisters are in physical contact with each other. They didn’t even notice the psychic interference. But at least, the inside of the ship is quieter, now.'
'Okay! We’re clean! Let’s go outside and play!' Elaine broadcast, joyfully.
They hopped out of the bath, and ran, wet, naked, screaming and laughing, all the way back to the cargo bay. Forming their wings, they dived out into the vast expanse of New Eden, their aches and pains forgotten as they joined their sisters in their celebration above the great ship.