5 of 7 | Chapter 11


Gibbs had a tendency to dislike using untested methods and he looked at the power plant with a glazed look of doubt in his eyes, then ordered the system switched one level higher. The increasing vibrations that occurred were not only noticeable to the sensitive sensor devices in the building. The ground began to vibrate disturbingly under their feet. It wasn't too loud, but the earlier knocking sound had washed out and morphed into a lower rumble.

The engineer froze and Steersman had to poke him in the side to bring him back to his senses.

“How much is it producing now?”

“Pardon?” he asked, starting suddenly.

“What's the output?”

Gibbs read the values, blinked and then double-checked them again.

“It's eight thousand megawatts!” he croaked in excitement, his voice slowly being drowned out by the increasing noise.

“Get your people together. We are going to start the Gravitor up for real,” said Steersman. “We have enough energy for a small country now.”

“Our internal network won't be able to handle it. We'll need to re-route it onto the subordinate system,” said the scientist, looking increasingly worried.

“It's solvable. I'll organize routing, just tell me where we need it set up, and it will be there within ten minutes,” said Steersman.

“It'll be fine along the avenue running past ASEC. Anywhere there would be good, as that's where the main line runs,” replied the engineer, but he could not even begin to speculate how Steersman was going to make it happen.

“Set the voltage and put breakers in place. I do not want it to ruin anything. When that's done, come to the site!”

“Of course,” he answered, but by then Steersman had left in the same manner as he had come.

Gibbs had no idea how they'd be able to transport a twenty-five meter high, one and a half ton piece of equipment. They had never planned to move it at all, and certainly not in ten minutes. What kind of madness is this? he thought.

He had no time to dwell on it because the roof of the prototype plant stirred. Over the Gravitor-I, the entire vault slipped to one side, like a giant armored plate. A huge beast of a machine hovered in the sky above, and had it not obscured it, the sky would have been visible. It gave out a screaming sound as it suddenly moved into position. A blinding white light prevented anyone determining its shape. One thing was sure, it was hovering. Another ray of light, something quite different, encircled the power plant and drew a vibrant green ring of light around it.

Neil Gibbs took a step backward and tripped. He remained on the ground as the plant began to rise in front of him. Fortunately, he remembered to release the lock, averting the plant from ripping the floor and everything else up with it.

This has to be some kind of joke, was the thought running through his mind.

He called the team together and walked outside where no one could believe their eyes. A giant machine floated motionless in the air near North Avenue, holding the power plant with a strange green light. With gracious simplicity, it slowly lowered the plant onto the lawn closest to the road.

Suddenly, Oliver Trenerry realized why he had been having the weird feeling that something was not right, that something was brewing in the background for quite some time. This sight explained everything. He looked at Karen, who stood next to him watching, yet didn't even show the slightest sign of surprise.

“You knew about it, didn't you?” he asked her.

“What? The vehicle?”

“Of course the vehicle, what else?”

“Yes, this is one of many developments that's happening at the moment, but I don't know everything though. What's bothering you?”

“Apart from not knowing about it, nothing really!”

“Well, then, all I can say again is talk to him.”

Trenerry did not answer. He stood observing the engineers as they started to work on the plant.

Jim Hols, the construction manager and his construction team arrived from the still stricken city to assist in its rapid construction.

The aircraft, that had came out of nowhere, remained hovering over them and provided light for them to work by. Forty minutes later, they had achieved a miracle. At quarter past eleven at night, lights began to flicker on in patches until—block by block—the entire city was returned to its original glowing splendor. The nearly three-hour power outage had seemed to last for a year, and had aged the ASEC experts ten times as many. Unfortunately, they still had work to do.


Sowing an interest

Although ASEC did not have to be shut down, all the units remained on stand by for the following forty eight hours. The Gravitor-I, under constant supervision seemed to be stable and proved to be a reliable source of unlimited electricity. The Excolopolis power outage had thrown a slight shadow onto the Expo, and the new power plant drew all attention over the following few days. Suddenly a strata of authoritative powers, that up until now had only passively followed events, began to move as a result of these developments. There were also those among them who were bothered by Steersman's invisible kingdom and how its reach seemed to extend everywhere.

Those states that were at a disadvantage because of their energy dependence were busy taking the unexpected opportunity to loosen the grip of countries exporting the raw materials for energy production.

So far, the most influential industrial and commercial figures in the world had appeared in Steersman's office, but by far the most unexpected visitor was the Greek senator, Gus Xanthopoulos.

“How can I be of assistance, Senator?” Steersman greeted the politician, offering him a seat. The senator was elderly man who showed not the slightest signs of age in his demeanor.

“First of all, thank you for being available so quickly, Mr Steersman. I know what a busy man you are, and popular as well,” croaked the seventy-eight-year-old senator, who was considered elderly even in political circles.

“That must mean that people know our organization in Greece as well.” Steersman smiled.

“And how! We have spoken about the impact of ASEC on industrial production, exports, education, and demographics who knows how many times in our senate,” the senator gurgled, his voice tinged with a smile.

“For some reason, that doesn't sound too reassuring,” Steersman noted.

“Come on, Mr Steersman. You do your job and this ruffles some feathers, yet that is all part and parcel of the game, as you know well. It's not as if you have ever bothered with it, no? But I did not come here to judge you. Frankly, and quite between ourselves, I am most delighted to see what you're doing, though I must ask you to keep that within these walls.”

“All right, as you wish.”

“I came here to ask for help,” said the senator changing his tone to a more serious one.

“If I can, I will help. What's it all about?”

“I do not ask much. I need your help to rid Greece of its raw material dependency on the Middle East. It is not such a big favor to ask, isn't it?” he smiled again. It seemed as if he felt that being old gave him the freedom to relax.

“Is it natural gas that we are talking about?”

“Yes, mainly. To buy a product from one country is one thing, but to be subjected to the whims of a semi-dictatorial country, or to the mercy of the leaders of other countries is a completely different thing. The service either fails or completely stops, while they raise prices, citing all sorts of brazen lies as to why.”

“It does indeed make it difficult to build a strong economy under those conditions.”



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