Operation Uranus Attack was an attempt to do what was before considered impossible: the 100 light year mission. There were several reasons the mission was assigned.
First and foremost, Skunk wanted to be the first pilot to break the 100 light year barrier. Some said that the ship could not
withstand the attempt and tear itself apart. Others speculated that the pilot would black out before they could break the barrier. Some even thought that the mind of a SCUL pilot wouldn't be able to comprehend the experience, and their brain would literally explode! Most people thought the pilot's knees and crotch would give out long before any of these strange phenomenons would occur.
Secondly, the outrageousness of the stunt was a perfect opportunity for publicity. Many civilians were told of this level A mission in order to entice new recruits. Also people could pledge (5¢, 10¢ or 20¢ per light year) in order to aid in funding the construction of a new supership, the USB PissCutta.
Admiral Skunk volunteered for the mission. Although he had never before piloted a ship for a complete century, civilian or otherwise, he had previously ridden 160 light years in two Earth days on a civilian long range scout, and 90 light years on a Civilian Bomber with Crack. He wanted his first century to be done in the name of SCUL. Planning such a stunt was done very carefully. The route was decided upon first. Originally the plan was to transport the pilot and ship 100 light years away from base and fly back. However the terrain seems unsuitable for a SCUL fighter, the suburban wasteland is nearly void of Luna DDs and Luna 7-11s. Also G-well activity typically heavier outside the perimeter of the Boston Star System area. Finally a course was decided on: ten laps of ten light years thought the Boston System star cluster, starting at sunset, and continuing all night and possibly all day.
Operation Uranus Attack - Flight plan Alpha
The second thing to decide upon was the ship itself. SCUL did not want to use the easiest ship on this mission, because that would defeat the whole purpose. On the other hand the bike should be comfortable enough to be piloted for great durations. After a long process of elimination, all current ships in the fleet proved unsuitable for the mission. A bicycle was specifically created for the event. The following criteria were set:
1). Her hull must be made of steel, crappy as the day is long.
2). Her cockpit must be a of saddle of banana design.
3). Her forks must be chopped of considerable amount.
4). The ship must have only one speed.
5). The ship must rely on retros as its sole method of stopping.
6). The ship must not bear any lightweight expensive parts (accessories such as a lasers and an on board cyclocomputer were permitted).
USB Centvrion is the result.
Admiral Skunk with USB Centvrion, one week before launch
The USB Centvrion is a 20" cruiser hull with a 16" front wheel. The banana seat was the most comfortable one we had lying around. The forks were transplanted from the crappiest of bikes. The helm was transplnted from a derelict exercise bike.
SCUL was able to raise $2.30 per mile for the mission. In addition, some very valuable time from an master hull designer was also pledged, but only if the 100 light years were fully completed.
During the pre-flight check technicians noticed a problem with the main mast to hullinterface. Some quick repairs allowed the launch to remain on schedule.
A quick repair keeps the launch on schedule.
USB Centvrion was also equipped with an audio black box recorder. The following is a transcript ofthe flight log:
(LOG:) Preflight check. Everything checks out okay,launch date estimated 40-7pm EarthTime.
(GASSYD:Full Pea Flavor.) OVER.
(LOG:)(GASSYD: laughs. You're gonna carry that around with you?)
To record the mission.
(GASSYD: laughs. Aw man. Well... Cool!) All right!
(LOUD Creaking noise.Another LOUD Creaking noise.)
SPACE LOG: primary thruster makes that noise. We'll see if it does that after light year 100. OVER.
SPACE LOG: I've started, and I'm tired already. Jennifer's with me on the route, and we might rendez-vous with Stinky at some point, OUT.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Started at precisely 44-7 Earth Time. OVER.
STAR LOG: 06-8. No Sign of Stinky, now traveling solo. Halfway between the Harvard Constellation and the Central Constellation, on Planet
Massachusetts. Eh, this craft is a little squirrelier than I originally anticipated. My left knee hurts a little bit already, but I'm very determined and hopefully there won't be incidents, or I will, I don't know, I hope I don't... crack. Anyway, shorty... I'll... meet up later... bye.
(LOG:) I'm at light year 8.3. Stopped at Luna Store 24 for refreshments. So far so good, average speed about Warp 9, top speed 15.5, um. more later.
(LOG:) The way I see it, I saw civilians on pretty crappy ships doing the MS ride, and I was on probably the easiest ship to pilot in the world for me, my Seven, and it was difficult for them I'm sure, some of them were in pretty bad shape, and they did it. Sure it was supported, but I have enough money to buy drinks, for food whenever I want, there's lot of places open 24 hours, so what I'll do is keep that in mind. Also, if I don't push myself too hard, but people have done double centuries, people have done centuries on a cruiser, like TerminatorS, people have races across theentire United States. I can do this.
STAR LOG: Operation Uranus. Lap one Complete at 51-8pm Earth Time.Feeling pretty good. Anticipating problems, left knee seems a little twitchy, and this ship is dodgier than I thought. Thirdly, uh, the bag digging into my sunburn a bit, but uh, hopefully these things won't pose too much of a problem. OVER.
MISSION LOG: 01-9. Ran into Crusty, wished me luck on my journey, rode with me for a bit, remarked on how quickly a pace I was going at, said it was difficult for him to catch up with his civilian cruiser, an uh, thought I was gonna be all right. Stopped in at Fort Francis, let PitGirl know how I was doing, and uh, grabbed another tape, off I go again on lap 2.
MISSION LOG: Past the Central- Just Passed the Harvard Bridge on lap 2, got talked to by a bunch of kid in a transport, they loved USB Centvrion, asked my if I wanted a hit of their pot I said no. But they were way into it and it's cool to see people acknowledging the ship.
MISSION LOG: I'm stoppin' at the Luna Store 24 in the Allston Brighton System. 28.8 Light Years. I'm gonna need to get some...
(PASSERBY: Nice Bike!) Thanks! I'm gonna need to get some uh, Power Bars, and to get off the saddle for a while, and uh, get another Gatorade in me, and hopefully things will start feeling better, and uh, I anticipate a long slope down into… a very painful ride. OVER
SHIP'S LOG: Consumed two Earth Power Bars, one mocha, one apple somethinorother, both pretty gross. Very tough. I also had one of them Gatorades, and uh, ran into somebody I met at a party, I think it's the one where all the ST's showed up. And uh, gave me a push off, so that was kinda cool. Okay, signing off, I'm over by the Luna IHOP again, gone something like uh, 29 light years or so, I can't see the odometer in the dark here, hold on, stand by. 30.5. OVER
STAR LOG: Lap 3 complete. 28-11 Earth Time.
SHIP'S LOG: 00-12. It's midnight. I'm on the Harvard Bridge. Took a couple photos of me. I hope they come out, it's a nice night.
STAR LOG: I'm at Luna Store 24 during the third lap. I got 'Midnight Thunder' Gatorade (laughs). And I won prize 'Number Two', which is uh, more Gatorade. Hoo boy. Too bad I couldn't get it tonight. It doesn't matter. Anyway I'm kinda resting for a while, taking it easy, then I'll head out again.
STAR LOG: 59-12 Earth Time. Completed lap 4. Uh, 42.6 light years so far. My knees are hurtin', but I think they're gonna be okay. Uh, the streets are empty, and it's nice out.
MISSION LOG: I'm at Fort Francis. 05-1 Earth Time. Picked up new tapes. Both Nightsun Batteries are dead. Took off rear reflector due to dead batteries. I don't feel like changing the bulb. I've got pedal reflectors, and I still got my helmet on, so I'm just gonna go with that. OVER
SPACE LOG: 42-1. Took a leak off the Harvard Bridge. Got most of it out before a transport was coming too close. It'll be enough to get me back to base.
SHIP'S LOG: 00-2. The sissy bar's started to crack. On the port side, near the bolt. It could completely separate. Um, deciding, wondering if I should continue with this ship or, get on another one. Um, I'm gonna try to finish it on this one but we'll see how it holds up. I'm gonna stop and get some coffee soon, starting to get a caffeine headache. My knees are really hurting. I'm just about approaching the 50 Light Year mark now.
SHIP'S LOG: Ate some donut and coffee at Luna Dunkin' Donuts, and now heading on. A closer inspection of the sissy bar, I found that both above the top bolts are cracked, but the left bolt down by the axle on the left side needed tightening so the whole thing felt loose. But when I heard the noise actually both sides cracked. I'm gonna continue with this ship... and hopefully things won't get much worse, and I'll just try to stay off the back of the sissy bar, which I was trying to do to keep my knees from hurting too much. I think instead what I'll do from now on I'll just get up off the saddle and hammer for a bit. It kind of feels good to stretch em' anyway. And if that doesn't work then I know it's time to take a little break for maybe half an hour or so. But uh so far so good. Starting to mist a little bit again a little sprinkle, but it feels kinda nice. It's uh 35-2 Earth Time. We're hitting mile 50 plus, I dunno, somewhere around there.
SHIP'S LOG: Lap 5 Complete. 47-2am. 52.3 Light Years
SHIP'S LOG: 04-3 Earth Time. I'm in the Harvard Constellation. It's probably the quietest I've ever seen it. Very little traffic. Maybe one transport so far. Except for a couple people. (pause) That guy was there last time I went through. (long pause) Yeah, it's quiet.
Probably the best lap I'm gonna have as far as traffic goes, so I might as well soak it in.
SHIP'S LOG: 11-3 Earth Time. Halfway between Harvard and Central Constellations, around 900s Planet Mass. I've found a transport which looks a lot like FuelInjector's. 909-RER is the identification. I'll have to check it out, if it matched up. My curiosity will be peaked.
SHIP'S LOG: Central Constellation seems a little but busier than Harvard. But still not too bad. I dunno, I guess I'll be glad when this is over (laughs).
SHIP'S LOG: 27-3. That's right:3:27am. I'm in the Kenmore Constellation, things are pretty quiet here, too. Everything's stopped. I'm just keeping the machine going, ignoring my knees. There not too bat right now. I was expecting them to get a lot worse a lot quicker. Kind of a steady ache. Everything else is going okay.
(LOG:)(Sound of a Styrofoam cup being run over) Direct hit! Oh Yeah.
SHIP'S LOG: 45-3. I'm at Luna Star Market in the Allston System. Just picked up some water and some Ibuprofen atoms. I think I might need it. Um. everything's cool.
MISSION LOG: 50-3. Took my picture, down at Star Market, just for posterity's sake, whatever that word is. I'm too tired to even say it right. Um, used that automatic timer thing, so I hope it comes out.
LOG: 58-3. Radiation starting again. This one looks like it could be a little more significant than any other time so far. I'll keep you posted.
LOG: 61.5 Light Years. 10-4. The radiation has stopped. It's really nice out. I'm really getting into it. The pain seems to have subsided, I think that Ibuprofen's kickin' in. And the music's great. I'm just in a really good mood. I have a feeling this is gonna be all right.
LOG: 16-4. Lap Complete 62.5 Light Years. Lap 6 complete.
LOG: 4... uh.. yeah. 49-4. 63.4 Light Years. I'm at fort Francis. I took a nice long break. Uh, I'm getting ready for the real second half of things because the last 35 light years are gonna be like the first 65 probably. I feel pretty good still. It's still kind of drizzly, but the sun should be up soon, and that should make me feel better.
LOG: 51-4. Got my sights set on a cup. We have confirmed lid, kind of rolling around in the wind. We'll see if I can hit it. Here we go… Approaching. (sound of a Styrofoam cup being run over) Direct hit!
LOG: I'm in the Central Constellation. Batteries are getting pretty low on my radio. It's kind of bumming me out. I got a long ways to go. I don't think I really want to buy them at a convenience store though. It costs so much. I can probably make it.
LOG: 11-5. Batteries are completely dead. I'm about as far away from home as you can get. But I think I'm still gonna stick with it. Most centuries are done silently, I'll guess I'll do it that way.
LOG: Light Year #69. It is 28-5. The sun's coming up. The birds are starting to sing like buzzards flying around my head. But... I'm gonna make it. No problem. I was starting to hallucinate for a little while. I thought I was saw something chasing me like a little rodent,
turns out to be my shadow, on the curb. I saw what I thought was a big huge dog, turns out to be a guy pushing a shopping cart. And I see people standing by the road, usually they turn out to be mailboxes. There are some things I know I didn't hallucinate: I saw a guy writing graffiti, yeah there it is. I saw two kids beating the crap out of a telephone. There's one other thing, I can't remember.
(LOG:)Oh yeah, there was some guy throwing away garbage, pulling up in a truck and putting it in someone else's pile. I wonder what's in those bags. Stopping at Luna Star Market in the Allston System again to buy batteries, and some more water and to go to the bathroom, and
to kill a little time. OUT.
LOG: 42-5. We have an empty bladder, full batteries, we're ready to go.
(LOG:) 44-5am. Taxicab sees his fare just as he's coming past me, and he decides to stop quickly and pull right over, and he comes pretty close to hitting me. Then he gets out of the car and I say to him "hey, you almost hurt me. You should have been more careful". Then he says "Oh. I didn't see you. Oh Sorry". So I think I did the right thing, instead of screaming at him and keep going. Just... you know. I don't know. I don't know how he couldn't have seen me. (sigh). Oh well, it's cool I did the right thing.
SHIP'S LOG: Lap 7 complete. 05-6am. 72.8 light years.
LOG: 15-6. I'm at Fort Francis. PitGirls's awake. Um, I've done about 75 light years. Haven't quite hit it yet. Gonna have some coffee here, then I'm gonna loop around to Crack's and have some tea there. Maybe I'll stop in at Luna Seven.
LOG: 44-6. Embarking from Fort Francis. Cup of coffee and another Powerbar. I've kind of hit the wall, but I'll try to get it back.
LOG: 41-7. I'm at Crack's. She's making pancakes. I feel good. 20 light years left. Should be a breeze now.
LOG: 45-9. Crack and I are leaving for the last 20 light years.
LOG: 55-8. Traffic is significantly worse. We're by the IHOP. But we'll only have to do it one more time.
(LOG:) Lap 8 completed. 83.2 light years. It's 02-9.
MISSION LOG: 25-9. We're by the fountain. It's refreshing.