1. Riding the Fire
The engineer who used the name Curt Feuerstein leaned back against the sun-warmed metal shoulder of his parked Cadillac and devoted himself to the rare pleasure of beholding his work's fruition. The project was not his alone, he reminded himself in a tongue older than Man. To make the truly great works, to shake the earth and the heavens, he had to subordinate his pride and be a good team player, as the Americans said. Still, as ancient of days as he was, Fëanor felt his heart leap anew in anticipation.
He donned his sunglasses to hide the brightness of his eyes from the curiosity of nearby reporters; he feared the sun no more than he feared the tides or the mountains. It had been months since he had completed his part of the work. Now the five mighty F-1 engines were ready, and in moments they would ignite and lift the Saturn V and its cargo of Men off the surface of the Earth.
Ten, nine,…the countdown boomed over the loudspeaker. The Edain who surrounded him tensed, screamed with excitement, or prayed. There it was! A brilliant light flared on the launching pad. The engines roared to life with over seven million pounds of thrust. The Elf in Man's clothes smiled with the happiness that naught could diminish, the joy of properly finished work warming the cool angles of his face. He tilted his head back to watch as Apollo 11 rose into the air, propelled by the engines he had helped devise, on its way to the Moon. Spirit rising, Fëanor's eyes followed the trail of flame that blazed upwards until he could see it no more. The huge engines would separate and fall from the rocket, their utility brief but infinitely valuable.
Crueler memories of other flames flickered across his mind: the Balrog's fiery emissions that had killed Caranthir. Fëanor had meant to attack the retreating forces of Morgoth, but he had been weakened by wounds taken in the Battle-under-Stars. Caranthir had proudly ridden ahead in his father's place. Fëanor and his other sons had arrived at the bounds of the Dol Daedeloth too late. Caranthir was dying, while Gothmog had slunk back to Angband, leaving a trail of sulfurous smoke. And years later, Maedhros had thrown himself into a volcanic fissure, bearing the Jewel that had burned hope and hand.
At least he still had two sons left on this side of the Sundering Sea, Fëanor reflected. Maglor was even now recording another album with his ridiculous "Fab Five" fellow musicians. If one could call them musicians! Five years had passed since his son had spoken to him, so angered had Maglor been when Fëanor had called him a posturing fool after watching the Ed Sullivan television program. Secretly, Fëanor was proud of his secondborn. Maglor had already eclipsed his father in wealth and fame in this populist era. And Curufin was working on the N-1 rocket in Russia, as Fëanor had planned. Soon, perhaps in a mere twenty years, they would reunite to use their knowledge in Fëanor's great design.
Let Von Braun have the glory and recompense that was a chief artisan's due! Lowly engineer Feuerstein, who was not really lowly, had learned that patrons' favors merely distracted from work. A bright future beckoned in this Age of Space, thanks to the profusion of new technologies, materials, and industrious Edain.
The Elf opened the door of his one indulgence, the custom-made red Cadillac Eldorado convertible and slid into the roomy driver's seat. He would soon enjoy the feel of the wind in his crew-cut hair and over his surgically rounded ears. Fëanor pulled down the top, and turned the keys in the ignition. Vroom-vroom, sang the eight-cylinder engine! Zero to 60 in nine seconds! Not as much thrust as the magnificent F-1 engines, but still a sweet ride. His smile softened as he remembered the sweetest ride of all. Nerdanel. No one could compare to her, even after so many thousands of years. Did she await Fëanor's return across the Sea in the far West?
He would return, Fëanor vowed, not for the first time. And perhaps that day was not so far off. He stopped the car; pulling over to look to the skies. The rocket was speeding toward the Moon now, well beyond even his sight. The Apollo mission was but one step in his design. He peered at the clouds, imagining the place where the Evening Star would shine later. The Valar had cleverly sent the sky-ship Vingilot into the solar system so that it would shadow the orbit of Venus and, with its artificially magnified Silmaril, combine with the actual star's glow to the eyes of the dwellers on Earth. One day, I will ride the rocket myself, Fëanor swore, far beyond the Moon, to the ship of Eärendil, and take back the Jewel that he stole, the Jewel I made.
He was still unsure what he would do with the Silmaril after he reclaimed it. After all the carnage caused by his Oath, the loss of five of his sons and the long separation from Nerdanel, there were times when Fëanor thought he just might take the Jewel back to Valinor and present it to Yavanna, if only to see the shock on the Valar's faces. Perhaps he would even spare Eärendil's life if he could. But he dearly wanted to hold the Jewel once more. And all that Curt Feuerstein, space program engineer, learned from the flight of Apollo 11 and other rockets would lead him into the very heavens and the Silmaril.
Ride well the fire, Fëanor called out in thought to the three men sitting in the small capsule so high above Middle-earth. And let it bring you safely down, you who risk your lives to know the lights of the heavens.
The once, present, and forever Spirit of Fire raised his hat in salute to the mortals, then gunned the engine again and drove away.
My thanks to Pandemonium_213 for beta-ing the story; and to Maeglin for the prompt - Feanor lives - that inspired the tale. The story was originally written for Maeglin's birthday.
The German name Feuerstein means Fire-stone; or something very close to it.
Curt Feuerstein/ Fëanor's car is a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, and can be seen here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Eldorado . It is custom-made because I imagine Fëanor had trouble fitting those long legs of his in most cars; Elves being generally taller than modern humans.
My data on the Saturn V rocket, its F-1 engines, the N-1 rockets being worked on in the Soviet Union around the same time, and the Apollo 11 mission, comes from wikipedia.org.
It is told in The Silmarillion that Fëanor was killed after he took off ahead of his own forces after the retreating forces of Morgoth - he was too far ahead of his own troops and was surrounded and attacked by balrogs and others. In this Alternate Universe, as Fëanor remembers, Caranthir chased on ahead instead of Feanor, whose wounds, though not mortal, prevented him from being balrog-bait.
The "Fab Five" to which Fëanor alludes are, in real life, "The Fab Four", the Beatles. In the summer of 1969, when this ficlet occurs, they were recording Abbey Road in England. And yes, I'm implying that Maglor was the fifth Beatle.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.