Monday, December 14, 2015

Gyreshark

Gyreshark by Gaines PostA muffled series of thumps resounded from the north wall. Heath's pulse quickened. The ship must be entering the gyre already.

Hastily he wrapped his sleeves up to the armpits with nylo wire and then tied it off. Removing the helmet, he squirmed into the jumpers, one layer after another. They felt tight around his muscles. He flexed his elbows until the coils loosened a little, then put on the gloves and helmet and picked up his spear. More thumps were coming from the hull, with increasing frequency. It was now or never. Or at least not until next pass around Littlerock.

No one was around to watch the boy in his ridiculous garb as he went up the access ladder to the broken old ceiling lock, climbed inside, and began cycling open the hatch to the sky.

An alarm sounded. Heath did not hesitate. He had been expecting it, and the adults were all too afraid to do anything about it anyway. Pushing up on the hatch, he stuck his head into the wind and peered around him.

The surface of Littlerock lay several kilom'ers below the ship, appearing a hazy purple through the thick atmosphere. All that solid earth, Heath thought. But even more on Bigrock.

The rush of air against the helmet was deafening. The ship was deep in the gyre already, and the sargaca clouds were all around, whipping along the air currents in blurs of dark green. One ripped past his head close enough to make him flinch. He heard the thumps and scrapes against the hull as the ship plowed into cloud after cloud of the moss-like substance. The plant matter slid across the solar panels spanning the craft's mighty wings, and made a staccato pinging sound where it was getting trapped in the forward food grills.

Gyres were regions of rotating wind currents created by the complex system of coriolises around Littlerock. Most were semi-permanent eddy zones chocked full of snared sargaca, as well as the myriad flora and fauna that used the stuff for food and cover. Long ago, the crew had realized that the only way to sustainably feed themselves was to steer the ship through the gyres and collect what biomass they could scoop up. Once clear, they would retrieve the captured sargaca from the food grills, and then process it in the lab to extract proteins, gases, trace minerals, and so on.

Heath scanned the gyre, on the lookout for sudden movement. Humans were not the only creatures feeding here.... 

(To be continued.)



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