1 of 7 | Chapter 11

Gravitor

 

At 10:00am on June 27, 2077, just as the office at PrEUST was closing its doors on student applications, some a way away the DCG Expo was opening its gates to a technology exhibition that was stirring up an ever larger storm. The fact that ASEC was not presenting a vehicle made the event less controversial. As it turned out, however, a huge surprise awaited the general public and the press on opening day. Nearly three-quarter of the automakers exhibiting at the expo were unknown, their development centers and workshops recently founded and built from scratch. These companies—which had seen tremendous breakaway opportunities in the new technology—were founded mainly by a large number of daring entrepreneurs who were from a growing middle class in developing nations, and who were willing to put almost everything on the line. They sent concept vehicles that were branded with incredibly rich designs and were equally richly equipped to compete in the expo.

Only a few dozen of the world's major car manufacturers had been able to organize themselves at such short notice, and to develop their own prestige models to represent their company names. Others sent in agents prepared with pre-written contract under their arms, ready to strike, buying the design of new unknown companies so that—having bought the rights—they could immediately start mass production.

It soon became apparent that a comparison between the two ends of the world were being made: the elite manufacturers of the wealthy and privileged west, and the manufacturers of the developing countries that were hungry for success. What was sure was that none of the car manufacturers had any reason to blush for their concept designs and an intense competitiveness vibrated throughout the huge exhibition center and became the prevalent atmosphere at the expo.

Alisa Clancy, the lead organizer of the Expo was a real dynamite. The job couldn't have been done with a more relaxed attitude, but it was still a miracle that she hadn't had a coronary. She filled the place with her presence each time she went through to inspect progress, making sure that everything was perfectly in its place and running smoothly right until the close of the event.

The most spectacular part of the expo was the thin membrane dome that was suspended above the event by thousands of floating spheres and covered the whole area. The spheres would occasionally begin to move spectacularly, at times making the sky seem like it was moving, and even spinning and undulating.

An artificial outdoor world was created in which even buildings could not break the unity, as everything was in one space. Only huge ground plates irregularly tiered onto each other in the vast area gave it a layered aspect, through which a complicated road network ran. Highlighting this were the dense compositions of lush woods, flourishing all around.

Alisa Clancy took it as a rebellion directed personally at her when—on the very first day—impatient exhibitors made it known that they didn't wish to be restricted to the limited territory given to them for the exhibition, especially considering that the whole area looked like a giant test drive track.

It was Mercedes who started it, but when the news swept across in a matter of minutes that the marketing manager—who hadn't wasted any time in setting up vehicles for a show tour of the expo—had ordered the whole fleet to circle through the exhibition to promote their model to the visitors. No more was needed for Audi to follow, and before long they were all at it.

When Alisa Clancy saw what popularity the idea had garnered amongst the public, she felt deeply offended that the idea had not come from her, so to preserve her dignity, she generously allowed it to happen. She did, however, send a memo around to all exhibitors to let them know that any mishap or danger would mean expulsion from the show. Having assuaged her ruffled ego, she returned to her usual mercurial self.

At nights, the expo was like a bizarre landscape where, in the sky was an expressive net of spheres and on the ground unique lighting effects flickered and pulsed from each of the vehicles.

By midnight, even Alisa Clancy saw the world through rose tinted glasses after the endless champagne in the company of powerful CEOs and industrial magnates, but she restrained herself in the company of her boss. There was no way she wanted Sean Steersman to think, even once, that she might not be fit for the job.

She had been able to live with her urge to comply for a very long time. At a traumatic turning point in her life, when she lost her little Biewer Yorkshire Terrier Lottie, she decided that she would no longer try to fight for everything with her personality. Rather, she began to let momentum swirl and carry her in the direction that life decided for her.

Although she was notoriously difficult to work with, she was able to keep together thousands of threads, pulling them in just the right way so that everything worked smoothly and, even more, worked on time. That is how she came to be chosen for the job at ASEC.

“I hope you are satisfied with the beginning, Mr Steersman,” she said, relaxing a little.

“Let's talk about satisfaction at the end, when we can evaluate this event as a whole, Ms Clancy,” he answered shortly. “The one hour ticket isn't working out. We have to get rid of it. I don't want to see people hurrying through, trying to see everything in one hour.”

“I agree,” she nodded. “We have one more space available and Iveco has indicated that they have their vehicle ready and would like to take part.”

“Give them all the help they need to settle in for tomorrow morning's opening.”

“They are on their way here. They were only waiting for my call to get permission.”

“Good.”

“Mr Steersman, although my duties are limited to the Expo area, its success still heavily depends on external factors as well.”

“What do you mean?”

“I have heard that demonstrations are taking place in the vicinity. It seems to me that there's not much fencing around the Expo territory. There are only signs warning that illegal intrusion can cause severe nausea.”

“The area is protected by a bionic zone. Those who have no ink on their skin are not protected from the bio-mechanical effects of the barrier, which causes headaches, abdominal cramps and a strong urge to urinate.”

“It is a sophisticated deterrent, but doesn't it contravene some kind of ethical code or law?” she asked, a little taken aback.

“There are not only visual displays drawing attention to the zone's effects, but also a warning sound. Only those venturing into it with the intent to cause harm are affected. Children under the age of fourteen will not be affected and neither will pregnant women.”

“How can the system distinguish whom to react to?”

“It works on a hormonal basis.”

“Oh … if it doesn't affect me, does that mean that I'm pregnant?” she asked uncertainly.

“Well, you can be pretty sure that you would be, yes.”

“Is it more reliable than a pregnancy test?” she joked uneasily. “And what if demonstrators pay for a ticket and then cause problems here?”

“At the entrance a face recognition system screens and recognizes unwanted guests by using their facial features. The entire territory is also protected by special squads trained in crowd protection and control, that are ready to jump into action the second they notice any sign of threat.”

 

*************************************************************************************************************

Previous pages Go to next pages

*************************************************************************************************************

 

 

comments powered by Disqus

CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH