Here's the deal. Real life is keeping me hopping. It turns out retiring is actually more work than the job was at least for the next few days. I started this and was going to use it for an introduction for a long post about how I am going to treat spacecraft and lifters in my setting. I still am but just not today. So I owe you a couple of posts and I hope you enjoy this introduction. Bear in mind if you use footrubs for personal gain I get a cut. It's only fair.
"Don't. Stop." Ranna Morrigen gasped.
"... why did you ... oh. I meant to say, "Don't stop." Gasping was hard on your ability to parse apparently.
"Oh. Sorry," Jorge returned to rubbing the lady's feet. The left one in particular. Ranna stretched slowly and completely.
"You're very good with your hands," she finally managed.
"I'm a whiz at gravitics, boson manipulators and programming. Welding gives me problems and internal combustion engines actively dislike me it seems," he rambled.
"Jorge, you can't be this dm. What kind of marks did you get in school?" she snapped.
"I did quite we ... "
"Is it the eyepatch? Some guys are put off by it. You aren't one of those are you?"
"... if someone were to gift me the finest sword ever made, I would prize it. The nicks and scratches it bore would show its history and great worth."
"I'm a second hand sword?" Ranna asked with a critical tone.
"You sure as hell aren't a fragile, gentle flower," he said bracing himself. But then she snorted and laughed.
"Jorge, you know lifter technology, even our patched together version," it was a statement,
"I do," he replied working the ball of her right foot.
"How are you at ... naval architecture?"
"I was studying it before ... before I came here," he said cautiously.
"Mmm ... when did you find time to get this good at foot massage? Never mind! How far along were you in your studies?"
"I was in the middle of my final year. I was getting ready to begin my internship," Jorge said softly. Worse he stopped rubbing her feet, thinking furiously.
"You may be the closest thing we have to a starship designer."
"Then God help us all," Jorge snapped. Ranna's face fell and he continued. "Maybe you should have asked someone before you risked your reputation and life on a speech promising the masses a starship. We have lifter technology. That has limits: beyond ten diameters or so it becomes nothing."
"We could get to orbit!"
"Yes but getting to orbit and achieving orbit are two different things. You'll get up there but you won't be moving at orbital velocity. When your power cuts off you'd start to fall. Any ships moving in orbit couldn't dock with you. Any bits of debris (and believe me there is debris in orbit) could hit you like teeny bits of high explosive."
"We could build a maneuver drive. those use components similar to lifters!"
"Their similar yes but refinements, that require special materials and production techniques we just don't have here. Making a drive that uses a planet or moon in place of reaction mass is one thing. Making a drive that fuses fuel, uses it to generate a plasma rocket and then dumps the heat and exhaust into jump space on a massive scale is another. Your lifters can't even manage the lateral thrust conventional gravcraft do. You need secondary propulsion systems. Then there's the fusion reactors. Your technology is nowhere near building a fusion generator to power a jump drive or rocket ..."
Ranna drew her feet back and scrambled to her knees on the couch leaning in close. She hissed angrily, "Stop telling me what we can't build and work on what we can! No one built gravitics using vacuum tubes and resistors before we did! No one turned back an invasion force equipped to modern standards before we did! You're a fucking genius. You built that flyvver outside out of junk! It flies circles around the ones the Tech Knights have ... oh yes we ... they kept an eye on you Jorge. Now put your mind to this. The mark of true genius is to see the simple solution everyone else overlooks."
"I'll try ... okay I'll put my mind to it. But only because you ask me so nicely," he said. The fire in her eyes ... eye subsided somewhat. She inched closer to him on the sofa. He had to admit he felt like a mouse confronted by a mousetrap. How to get what you want without getting your neck broken? Well so far so good.
"You don't have to keep rubbing my feet."
"It helps me think actually," he said as she resumed her original position with a small squee.
The door opened with a bang letting in the rain and wind. This time it wasn't a man with a gun. It was Mayor Bruns entering. His poncho was slick with rain and he grinned to be out of that weather.
"Hey kids, sorry I'm late! Rain and all. What do you know?" The response was rather more antagonistic than he expected, even if he won the last election with only 54% of the vote.