5 of 6 | Chapter 12

 

“Yes, that's right. In just the last month ASEC has expanded and created further research and development units, including a third production facility sector. It has almost doubled in size.”

“It must be a huge challenge to keep the entire ASEC facility under control. I can't imagine how it is possible,” observed the professor.

“We have to have huge work areas due to the nature of our activities, which can be a little misleading. Vehicle development and manufacture is quite demanding in terms of space.” deprecated Steersman.

“It seems so. What new facilities have been commissioned?” the professor asked quickly, sensing Steersman's slight embarrassment.

“The new facilities are all specifically designed to serve the success of our new endeavor. A shorter passage is now being constructed to the second research block, where mainly biological research takes place. Equipment and supplies for the spacecraft are also being created there: navigation systems, communication systems, and preparing for previsional cases we are also working with stealth and reconnaissance technology. And we are developing associated subsystems to increase our chances of survival. For example, optimization of limited space for storage has a dedicated development team,” explained Steersman.

“Why did you start engaging in biological research?” asked the professor, intrigued.

“This is a completely new area of research for ASEC, so we are trying almost anything that could increase our capacity for adapting to extraterrestrial conditions. For example, we are engaged in plant development to allow us to be able to establish more viable vegetation in non-terrestrial conditions. In addition, we are conducting genetic and psychological research, and immunological and nutritional development in the Medical Center.”

“What will happen to discoveries that have already been made? Your robots have integrated themselves into ASEC life rather well.”

“Where we are now, the main block, has also undergone restructuring. Seven departments are operating here at the moment. These include Neil Gibbs' energetics division, Alec Samuelson's vehicle development department, and alongside that, a specialized unit has been established for investigating raw material processing systems and mining technologies. There is also a study group dealing with space architectural materials and technologies and last but not least, we have established an entirely separate unit for the development of advanced space vehicles and aircraft.”

“So far that's five.”

“Yes. Crop development technology was brought over here because it proved to be an incredibly space dependent enterprise. Furthermore, I set up a workshop for robotics and automated systems because, in the second sector, there are only production and unit divisions.”

“Very impressive.”

“Come, there will be a briefing for the design and simulation team.”

“Really? What do they do?”

“They'll be designing the new spaceships. As this is still a relatively new area, the majority of the team are top industrial designers, because they are very experienced and the engineers love working with them as they never lose sight of functionality. We started with this basic philosophy when deciding who to hire,” Steersman smiled.

“A relatively new area, indeed. They must be excited about the challenge,” said Hashimoto, nodding.

“Even they don't know what's in store for them,” said Steersman. “I'm on my way there now to brief them and see how they react.”

“Oh, I'd be happy to join you then.”

They went back to the main hall and then headed to the design level by elevator, in the same building that housed Steersman's office.

As they entered a large meeting room, Professor Hashimoto spotted an old friend.

“Nishihara?” he called out.

“Professor?” said the man in surprise.

“You know each other, that's wonderful,” observed Steersman.

“Of course. It's Zach Nishihara. Till now he's been designing carriages for companies specializing in manufacturing high-speed trains,” said Hashimoto. “He graduated from the University of Tokyo.”

“I'm happy to see you, Professor. I knew that you were working in Excolopolis, but I didn't expect to see you here. Do you bring in everyone this way?” Nishihara asked Steersman, reflecting the usual reaction of people first exposed the methods of ASEC.

“Yes,” said Steersman with a smile. “By the way, how are your family getting on in the new house?” said Steersman. He knew from long practice, what to ask to defuse surprise.

“I think they are beginning to like it. There won't be any problems settling in,” answered Nishihara.

“I hoped as much,” said Steersman.

Nishihara took a few calming breaths while he looked around his new work area. For the time being, the unit that had been allocated for spacecraft design looked rather like a blank canvas in the ASEC design workshop.

Many of his colleagues had similar backgrounds and there were design gurus that hailed from all over the world, of whom he was now the leader. Among them were those who swore by virtual design, and then there were the traditionalists who created miracles by hand with a simple pencil and a paper.

“I see now that you are not planning a low-cost endeavor, but what exactly is it that we are all here for? We haven't yet been told anything.”

“Please, call everyone together and I will tell you all.”

Nishihara gathered the designers, who were chatting together in excited groups after looking over the new equipment. The new facilities would allow them to create scale models of anything they designed.”

When everyone had gathered round, Steersman began.

“Welcome to the ASEC research base. Briefly, what is ASEC and what are we about in principle? Our organization intends to take another step forward for humanity, a step with which we will change the balance of power in the world today, a balance that has become skewed. It is a multifaceted issue. One side is all about addressing inequalities in society, distortions of civilization development that are caused by concentrations of power and force; the other part, however, is about our planet's complete ecosystem, and deals with the question of whether humans have the right to do anything we please with nature. We have a very clear position on these issues, and by using our technologies and product enhancements, people will not be able to go in any other direction than the right one. Unfortunately, we face many enemies who continually watch us, which will sometime make resolute action against them essential,” he explained carefully. “You are all now a part of this process.” Finishing his introduction, Steersman looked around. “Now then, to the task for which you're all here. After further investigating the options, we have decided that ASEC will begin exploring the possibilities for expeditions outside out own planet.”

“Are you talking about space travel?” interjected one of the designers.

“That's the plan.”

“I'm curious, how do we come into the picture.”

“Transport!”

“You want us to make spaceships?”

“I want you to design the fleet for the expedition. If you think this is going to be difficult, then I am afraid I will have to disappoint you further and say that there will be even more difficult problems to come. You should take everything into account in your designs; everything that will keep people alive, in comfort, supply the requirements of a closed system. In addition, these expeditions are not just sight-seeing trips. Apart from basic discovery, there will be certain goals for which equipment will be transported by the crew, so you have to think of everything,” said Steersman, laying the foundations for their design work.

 

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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