3 of 6 | Chapter 12

 

“Please, Mr Steersman, the floor is yours,” said the President.

“It is difficult to make a decision when each argument has an indisputable legitimacy. I would therefore suggest playing for a little time. I don't know exactly what the contract with the Energy Alliance binds you to, but I'm quite sure that they are not interpreting it as they should. I suggest that you turn off the Gravitor-II and try to restore relations with your partners,” he stated briefly.

“And why do we need to stall for time?” asked the President.

“The capacity of ASEC factories is such that we will be able to produce as many power plants as are required to supply the energy needs of the whole region within three months. Neil Gibbs, our chief energetics engineer will outline the details.” Steersman made way for his colleague.

Gibbs felt awkward at first, but quickly got into his stride.

“I can tell you that, based on preliminary calculations, the total energy demand of the European region can be met by installing forty-five generation plants, using our current technology. This rate of energy production allows for the replacement of all types of power generators that are currently in use: nuclear reactors, wind turbines, dams, and coal-fired and natural gas plants. Since, however, there is not only a need for electricity, we ought to do some restructuring to provide hot water service.”

A senator for Spain stood up. “It's not that simple. We use a lot of gas run industrial and household appliances that will need to also be replaced or converted to electricity!”

“I see. Then we need to discuss the possibility of importing gas into Europe in the short term. Can gas be imported from elsewhere?”

“That's the most salient point in the contract, in fact. European countries may not obtain natural gas from any sources other than the Energy Alliance.”

“But we're not even talking about that,” noted Gibbs.

“We know that. Yet the acquisition of other resources has been brought into the equation.”

“It seems to me that it's them committing a breach of contract. You will need another gas supplier, and meanwhile, it would be worth installing Gravitors in order to be less vulnerable,” suggested Gibbs.

“Unfortunately, because of a disagreement, we halted imports of gas from Russia several years ago,” said the senator from France.

“I think the situation can be resolved quite easily,” said the Ukrainian senator. “The Ukrainian state has enough reserves to cover the area at full capacity for a certain length of time, but in return we will need investments.”

The House once again erupted.

“What period of time can you guarantee?” asked the President.

“At best, we have enough to hold out until spring.”

“And what investments do you expect in return?”

“Any investment that will create jobs for around a million people,” he replied.

More rumbling. No state would be able to put an investment of that scale on the table, otherwise they would've done so well before.

“It will be possible … from next year,” Steersman interjected. “I am willing to build new factories in Ukraine.”

“Then, I see no further objections to us opening up our reserves to the entire area,” stated the Ukrainian senator, and sat down.

The whole room looked at the president to gauge his reaction.

“Mr Steersman, what is the cost of delivering Gravitors?” the President asked.

“They are thirty-two billion each,” he answered.

“Thank you. I now call a one hour recess. Voting will take place at exactly midday.”

“Then, if you will excuse us, we must leave. Please let us know your decision,” said Steersman standing.

“Thank you for honoring us with your visit, Mr Steersman,” said the President.

“We thank you,” Steersman replied with a bow.

Steersman and his team walked out, their departure followed by many silently watching eyes.

Rising, the aircraft moved off and quickly left Belgian air space.

 

New possibilities

After the vote, the European Congress ultimately decided to order delivery of sixty-four Gravitors from ASEC. They didn't release the details of the strategy with which they were hoping to solve their energy woes. Contracts were signed, however, guaranteeing investments that would effectively create one million jobs in Ukrainian territory within two years.

The UNE sent peace envoys to the premiers of the three Middle Eastern Energy Alliance leader states, giving rise to the assumption that they did not want to burn their bridges, and wanted to continue doing business with the Energy Alliance. The question was, what did they really want.

The leadership of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were known for their reluctance to do favors for the United Nations of Europe, which was why the UNE Government had for many years been unable to decide whether replacing the Russian supplier had been the right decision or not. In any case, the concession was made to normalize relations, but it was difficult to negotiate with partners who were convinced that without them the western world would fall back into the Middle Ages.

Three weeks later, the UNE authorities had selected all of the installation sites for Gravitors, and ASEC had by that time prepared itself for production; a new factory unit had been completed in the northern area of the center, the sector three, where the production of aircraft and atmospheric devices, as well as DCG drive and Gravitor production were being carried out.

Neil Gibbs had finally been freed of the responsibility for manufacturing, and he was once again free to return to his sanctuary in the central R&D block, which had been renamed the Department of Energetics and Transmission Technologies.

Gibbs was then given a project that cause him to freeze in his tracks.

“Choose two separate teams to work on further development of the Gravitor and DCGs. Appoint two leaders, I'll speak to them later,” Steersman told him.

Gibbs blinked. “Okay. And what are we going to be focusing on?”

“You'll be concentrating on the technology necessary for space travel.”

“Space travel?”

“We are slowly exhausting all of our options. We need to search for new sites, discover new materials with better properties than those available at the moment.”

“Okay. Understood. Where do we start?”

“We'll be starting a lot of things simultaneously, but your team will have to solve the problem of long distance space travel. You'll need to design a drive that can be used for interplanetary travel, since the DCG drives are not applicable. Do you think you and your people are up to the challenge?”

“Well, I'm pretty excited at the prospect, but I don't really know where to start.”

“Don't worry! All you have is this one thing to concentrate on. Start from an area you know well and then move out into the unknown. We'll all do the same.”

“One of my former colleagues worked in the space industry, designed engines, conventional liquid fuel injection propulsion units. He told me once that the construction of a drive unit for space travel seemed a trifle compared to all of the other problems and necessities that needed to be accounted for. Space travel is not a simple thing.”

“Well, we have pretty much everything at hand. We can already get into space using DCG anti-gravity technology, and once in space, we can create an artificial Earth atmosphere and build protective shields that can repel any physical object from the ship's hull, such as meteors or debris. If we can navigate and communicate effectively, we will be out of the woods, and the rest will be a walk in the park.”

 

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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 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH