3 of 6 | Chapter 16

 

“Sounds good.”

“To be clear about what we're expecting, we have to clarify the basics. We need to work out what will be considered acceptable behavior in relations between humans, aliens and machines and what sort of directives we will need to apply to these combinations.”

As they talked, they entered the energy department, and their conversation was drowned out by a rhythmic knocking sound that emanated from the far corner of the hall. There were a number of scientists gathered around a steel clad object the size of a train engine. At times, the noise intensified, and at others it trailed off, its rhythm constantly changing along with its pitch. The drive shifted alarmingly, despite being attached strongly to the heavy scaffolding surrounding it.

“What do we have, Gibbs?” Steersman addressed the scientist.

“Mr Steersman, I think you'll be pleased,” he said. “We have created a completely new method for harnessing DCG technology. In this power transmission system, the drives now successfully eject anti-gravitational pulses. With this additional step, we're able to produce multiple velocity pulses to eject propulsion material,” Gibbs explained enthusiastically.

“Excellent! Where are we with regards to testing?”

“We're working on adjusting systems so that the timing is perfect.”

“How does this impulse thing work?” asked Trenerry, intrigued.

“It's roughly comparable to the difference between exhaling slowly and consistently or exhaling in short strong puffs. The amount of air is the same, but in the second instance, the initial speed of air being expelled is much faster. At the moment, we are controlling each pulse by the regulation of negative gravitational fields using a seven second pulse frequency,” Gibbs explained, “but there are limits to its usage.”

“What?” asked Steersman.

“The system can only be used safely in zero gravity or close to it, in a vacuum, as it creates very strong fields that load everything that moves with high acceleration, not to mention having a fairly heavy impact on the surrounding environment.”

“What do you mean?” asked Trenerry.

“Put simply, if we were to use it within the Earth's atmosphere, it would be fatal for whatever it impacted,” Gibbs elaborated.

“So, how are you able to test it?”

“So far, we've only been able to test it using scaled down sizes and quantities. We're working with just five fields of strength, which is fairly safe.”

“Five fields of strength? In comparison to what?”

“Compared to the most powerful DCG sphere that currently exists, the one we use for Sumo type II craft. It has become the standard unit, because its output can't be increased without a further increase in size. With this new structure however, we plan to create an anti-gravity field strength of almost one million, bringing us close to the maximum speed that can be achieved. And that's just the beginning.”

“A drive of that strength could tear a spaceship crew apart, right?”

“As we are expelling a passive gravitational mass for thrust, then there'll be no problem as long as we use it in gravitational fields close to zero. In that case, acceleration is much more gradual.”

“What material is ejected?”

“That's the beauty of it! Ordinary sand particles can be for propulsion.” He grinned and pointed to panels on the wall behind the structure that were dented and scoured in the middle as a result of impacts from small objects. “Virtually anything of a compact size is suitable, though. For this reason, the ship does use ‘fuel’, although the consumption is extremely low. According to our calculations, only a tiny amount of material is required for more than one million kilometers, but it is still a consumable resource.”

“If it can't be used on Earth, how will it be tested live?”

“When we've finished assembling the individual components, we'll begin to build the engines according to our model here, but we need to make some provision for the expulsion of the propellent, Mr Steersman. If we begin to test here, even tiny particles become hazardous at such speeds,” noted Gibbs with some concern.

“Of course, we won't start the NGI engines here,” he said, giving the drives their official name for the first time, “and as we have no idea about control protocols, we need to first build several smaller versions of the drive, ones that we can install on a transport ship. We'll perform tests on that. The final drives will be constructed for spaceships,” said Steersman.

“Okay.” Gibbs nodded.

“You can use a Sumo II for testing. The second sector will soon be vacated and you can install the drives there.”

“Why?” asked Trenerry.

“All three factory sectors will be handed over for construction of the space fleet. All of our existing equipment will be transferred to the new IRD station, when it is ready.”

“Is that the new building site on the north side?” asked Trenerry.

“Yes. The area is twice as big as the rest of the ASEC and it will be dedicated to asset storage. It will not take up any more space in the production area.”

“Basically a massive hangar.”

“Sort of.”

“Fairly soon, we'll need to create new working standards to use for future projects, because continuing to work without them will become cumbersome,” said Gibbs, thoughtfully. “New units, scales, and so on. For example, the strength of gravity in a given position has great significance to us. It may also be a good idea to involve the astrophysicists.”

“All right, I'll talk to them once we have deciphered the new signals they've been receiving,” said Steersman.

“Another message has been received?” Trenerry gasped.

“Did we get a reply to our message?” said Gibbs, equally surprised.

“All we know is that the incoming signal has changed quite drastically. We don't yet know what it contains. It's far more complicated than the previous transmissions that were intercepted. We've had to seriously upgrade our decoding capacity.”

“It's getting umm, … rather exciting!” Trenerry said, but it was obvious that he had left something hanging.

 

Like all beginnings

The three sectors, vacated within a week, were left eerily empty. spaceship construction engineers waited impatiently to begin, including Surinder Neelam's team, which had been put together to construct spacecrafts under the aegis of ASEC.

Previously Neelam had played a significant role in building India's national space research program which quickly became a success story, so a number of less than competent politicians had felt the need to take an active part in. As a result of their dilettante reasoning the success story quickly came to a dead end. When the highly qualified and respected engineers and technical specialists working on the space program began to feel disillusioned and had had enough of playing clowns in the shadow of idiots, they began looking for a better deal.

All of them, along with their multi-generational families, now looked to Excolopolis as a new home full of opportunity, where they could wake up to views of large forest groves, green hilly suburbs and crisp clean air.

Karen had the completed construction plans. She knew exactly what would be built in which sector, and she knew how the colossal spacecraft were to be assembled. Many of the machines and much of the required equipment were still under development, but this didn't mean that they would delay starting work on the frames.

 

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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 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH