Draft88

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CHAPTER 88

With the transfers between Heaven and Palato no more frequent than biweekly, even Keter understood that he would never be able to staff Palato quickly enough to get the base fully operational before humans attained the scientific knowledge they needed to leave the Earth. When Keter lamented this Chokhmah mentioned, quite casually, that the world-dwellers transplated to Heaven were living beingss fully capable of reproduction.

But later, after mixing sexes in a prison environment, Keter lamented that the experiment was an unmitigated disaster.

Chokhmah reminded Keter once more that even the humans of Earth had observed there was more than one moon orbiting Jupiter, and that the planet was a kind of "failed star" with a miniature solar system all of its own. And that made Keter's next move entirely obvious.

Keter wasn't sure why Chokhmah was so full of helpful advice recently but he rolled the dice and allowed one couple to leave Palato in a small ship. They were dead before the day was out. Just beyond Palato is the inner edge of a permanent magnetic storm that rings Jupiter. Electrons spiral around the planet, accelerating to a fair fraction of the speed of light. The metal exterior of the ship shielded the couple from this direct beta radiation, but when the electrons slammed into the hull all that kinetic energy had to go somewhere. That energy emerged as x-rays continuously bathing the interior of the ship. It was a silent and invisible death, and no one at Palato understood what happened to the crew until the ship was remotely piloted back to the departure point and doctors could examine the bodies.

After that, active shielding was used. These devices built a magnetic field around the ship in imitation of the belt around Jupiter, but they required power, as high temperature superconductors were yet many decades in the future. Spacesuits used electrostatic shields. These shields blocked electrons but not other particles, and they operated for only a few hours. Later, as the ships built at Palato became larg- er, passive shielding was used in the form of liquid water propellant stored within the outer layers of a spinning metal sphere.

In these ships the crew lived and worked in a central core. As the water was expended in transfer burns, the liquid oxygen used to supply air to breathe was allowed to expand as a gas to fill the void vacated by the water and press the rest of the water "down" (or out). Since the water used for propellant had to be heated to remain liquid, this offered recreational opportunities for the crew, provided they did not dive too deeply and defeat the purpose of the shielding. Certainly it made the ship seem larger, which was good for morale.

The earliest colonists made a mad dash through Jupiter's radiation belt to the most distant of the big moons, Callisto, which was fairly safe with "only" ten times the flux of ambient radiation found on the surface of Heaven. Seismic studies revealed an underground ocean. But the liquid water under the surface of Callisto was too deep to reach. The surface ice had to be melted using nuclear reactors from the transport ships to provide water to drink and (with electrolysis) air to breathe. But plants could live in greenhouses on the surface.

To be sure, the dim light of the faraway sun had to be multiplied with strategically-placed mirrors, but this worked well, and Callisto soon became the breadbasket of the entire Jovian system. The workforce at Palato rapidly expanded to match the new supply of food.

Looking closer to Jupiter, the next large moon is Ganymede, which is, in fact, the largest moon in the system, even larger than the planet Mercury. But it lay within the outer reaches of Jupiter's radiation zone. Colonists were forced to live aboard their ships. Fortunately, the sub-Ganymedan ocean of water could be reached by digging deep wells and used to replenish the shipboard tanks that doubled as radia- tion shields. From their vessels they ventured out to mine what metal ores could be had nearby, which could be traded for food.

Periodically the colonists returned to Palato to off-load their cargo, then ventured to Ganymede again to land in a different place. Over time, they learned which areas of the moon were rich in ore and they tended to cluster there, but the overall population remained small.

The moon Europa lay deeper still within the radiation belt. Nothing could live on its surface for more than a day or two. But the layer of ice coating the interior ocean was so thin that sometimes it would crack open and seawater would ooze out like blood from a wound. This water quickly froze to form long criss-crossing ridges of ice. Euro- pa's underground ocean was actually quite warm, heated by tidal mo- tion. The colonists could leave their ships and burrow a few meters down into the ice, letting it protect them from the radiation.

The difference between the bathwater-warm subsurface ocean and the near-cryogenic cold of the surface set up a thermal gradient that could be tapped to provide an endless source of electrical power. The colonists didn't need to rely on their ship's reactors to stay alive. Europa was close enough to Palato that for the required velocity change, ships powered by chemical rockets alone could reach there and land. As a result, Europa naturally became the Jovian moon with the largest population, essentially a huge water and people farm.

But Io, the nearest Galilean moon to Jupiter, was a complete bust. There was not a drop of water there, and it was at the very epicenter of the radiation belt. Indeed, Io acted like a kind of rotor stirring up the field to a much greater intensity than would exist otherwise. Pressure suits with their partial active shielding could not deflect enough of the radioactive maelstrom to keep the wearer safe outside of their ship for more than an hour. Not even automated equipment could function for very long before ionization caused them to fail. On top of all that, Io was constantly about the business of literally turning itself inside-out, with volcanoes covering the whole surface of the moon with a meter of fresh brimstone every 10,000 years. Throw in the brutal quakes, and the colonists gave Io a complete miss.

About two centuries after they were founded Heaven's colonies on the Jovian moons advanced from being a state-subsidized bridgehead through a level of bare subsistence until something of a self-sustaining econ- omy wobbled to its feet and stood up. Then came the Great Revolt.

here remains some debate over the root cause of the insurrection. Many lay all the blame at the feet of a true apostasy that took hold among the Jovian colonists, not merely that simple criminal behavior conven- iently labeled and punished as apostasy by the Eyes of Keter. Others said the revolt could be attributed to three things: location, loca- tion, and location. Even Keter could only reach Palato with the will- ing cooperation of the two elohim who absolutely ruled this ancestral home star system of all world-dwellers, Chokhmah and Binah.

Or perhaps the humans who were transplanted to Heaven, and the angels and nephilim many of their descendants later became, were so engrained with a reverence for the elohim they instinctively shifted their loy- alty to Chokhmah and Binah once they were returned home.

There were stories among the rebels of discovering unexplained caches of food just when they needed it. Fresh fruit when vitamin deficien- cies were rampant aboard their ship. Rolls of bread so fresh it tasted like it had just been baked, impossible as that must have seemed. But no rebellion could have been successful so long as Palato remained the only source of new ships and the sole depot to overhaul existing ships. It did not escape notice that the Great Revolt happened only after the colonists at Callisto started building their own ships.

Beginning at roughly three times the distance of Callisto from Jupiter is a swarm of at least one hundred much smaller moons, ranging in size from 90 miles across down to less than a single mile in diameter. Some were just debris left over from the formation of Jupiter. Other moons were asteroids captured from the main belt, or even the cores of co- mets grabbed in passing by the enormous gravity of Jupiter. These tiny satellites varied widely in composition from simple monoliths, to loose piles of gravel, to balls of water and ammonia ice.

The orbits of the moons varied as greatly as their makeup, with many of them spinning around Jupiter in a retrograde direction like cars going the wrong way on a freeway. The first colonists to escape from the Eyes of Keter called this swarm of satellites the Eggbeater.

Keter's colony, set up to watch the inner system as though it were a vast prison camp, now bore watching itself. It was as though some of the guards climbed down from their tower to join the inmates in gener- al population.

"You knew it would happen," Keter accused Chokhmah.

Chokhmah replied, "How could I know 'it' would happen, father, if I do not even know what event you are--"

"The moons of the fifth planet! In the very beginning you seemed so helpful. But all along you knew my colony in your outer system would escape from my control."

"Father, unless you have grown stupid to the point of becoming totally blind, millennia of conflict in Heaven must have shown you that world- dwellers possess an indomitable spirit. The only thing that would sur- prise me is if you truly never did anticipate a revolt. You must have discerned by now that humans, nephilim, and angels alike will endure any oppression and absolutely will not cease to struggle until they are free. That is why, ultimately, you and Da'at cannot prevail. I am humbled to have them as my students. But I pity you."

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