4 of 6 | Chapter 16

 

She held her first briefing with Neelam.

“I know how it feels when you want to resolve every single issue yourself, therefore I'm asking you to notify me regarding anything that helps or hinders your work,” Karen requested.

“Of course,” said Neelam.

“Please, use the CCI logging system,” she added.

“Sure, no problem. I've reviewed the plans and have felt something that I do not often feel: hesitation. Neither the form nor the technology resemble anything we have worked with thus far in our careers, although we have always been considered to be working at the leading edge of our industry,” said Neelam voicing his first impressions.

“That's always the case at first, but it doesn't matter what we have dealt with in the past. What's important is our ability to adapt quickly,” Karen reassured him. “You used to be involved in aircraft construction, right?”

“That's right.”

“Then, it must not have been easy to move into the space industry, yet you succeeded. Now you are facing the same challenges again.”

The engineer began to visibly relax.

“What materials will we be working with?”

“The frame will be entirely built using an electrolyzed protein solution, in which the structure's regenerative polymer tissue will be generated. This material has very high torsion capabilities, and also possesses the ability to regenerate damaged areas at an incredible rate.”

“We will construct spaceship frames from organic material?” asked Neelam scientist, taken aback.

“Yes. And the outer layers of the surface will also contain organic material.”

“Really? And what will happen if it cannot tolerate vacuum of space?”

“Not a single integrated organic part will be in direct contact with space.”

“Not even the outer surface?”

“No, a liquid cover will hermetically seal the entire body. Plus an inverse gravitational field will shield against external stresses.”

“Nice idea,” the scientist said in some surprise, having not been previously aware of the existence of such technology.

“If the level of exposure exceeds the level of protection, then instability in the frame structure will be the least of our problems.”

“Understood. So, first we construct the frame, right?”

“The plan includes the progress schedule, and we now have the locations for parts manufacture. In the first stage, we'll build each of the structural elements required for assembly. Only then will we be able to turn our attention to building the outer shell, that being the second phase,” said Karen as she opened out the respective plans. “The casing will comprise five layers, four of which will be produced here.”

“Ah yes, graphene mesh, a very strong material indeed,” interjected Neelam, relieved to at last be on familiar ground.

“Yes. It will form the shell from the inside, followed by a flexible, heat-retaining ceramic material, then a residual radiation-absorption material and finally a special metal layer that will support the liquid covering.”

“The shell will be more than two meters thick,” observed Neelam, as he stroked his chin.

“It's significant, I admit, but also very necessary. Expeditions may last for years and during that time research will be carried out on board. In addition, bases for mineral extraction will be build on the surfaces of unknown moons, asteroids, comets and planets, so we have to make absolutely sure that the ship is prepared for any occurrence.”

“Right. What speed can we expect from the new drive?”

“About one and a half million kilometers per hour,” Karen estimated.

“How much?”

“With our new drive technology, higher speeds can be achieved, but there are dangers associated that don't allow us to go faster at this stage. There are also other limits imposed by the inability of the navigation systems to track efficiently at such high speeds.”

Sixteen minutes to the moon is still fairly impressive, though, Neelam thought for a moment. “So, there are concerns about the navigation systems not being powerful enough to cope with higher speeds.”

“Yes. They will have to be adjusted or redesigned for us to achieve faster velocities.”

“Okay, that's clear. What will the ship's environment be like for the crew?”

“Inside the ship, we're attempting to roughly mirror conditions here on Earth: the same levels of oxygen, nitrogen and CO2, the same atmospheric pressure and the same gravitational force.”

Surinder Neelam's expression mirrored his skepticism.

“Don't worry,” Karen reassured the scientist who seemingly faced with lot to learn.

“I think I had better start studying the specifications very thoroughly,” said Neelam pragmatically, concluding the briefing.

“Make sure you do.”

 

Dilemma

The more Oliver Trenerry thought about the responsibilities that had been piled upon him, and the deeper he immersed himself in planning the details, the more questions arose as to how to execute well what they were facing without allowing themselves to become an authoritarian dictatorship as judgment can so easily be overturned. Especially where certain restrictions may apply to human activities towards a goal that had never before been a priority.

He felt that he was facing the greatest and most significant challenge that he had ever encountered. Steersman was right, this was his life's greatest work, or would be if he was up to the challenge. Somewhat unconventionally, he chose not to consult with the leader of the organization. This time he involved his best people in formulating the first universal ‘code of conduct’ for humankind as a whole. It was a little overwhelming and extremely humbling that only half a dozen people had come together to bring it into being. They often felt a gnawing sense of doubt, wondering who they imagined they were to be dealing with a question as vast as that.

The answer always came to them whenever they felt any sense of hesitation. All it took was for them to take a look at one of the organization's research departments, or to watch the machines toiling relentlessly, to immediately lay to rest their questions and doubts: they were the ASEC, the organization destined to save mankind from the tangle of past mistakes that had dogged it throughout history.

The communications team was made up of battle-hardened analysts, but they could only begin to seriously work after they had laid to rest all of their dilemmas.

“Let's divide this job into more manageable parts! Firstly, we need to create the document itself, a moral code, then we also need to develop communications protocol for making the introduction on a global scale. Neither can exist without the other. The responsibility we are charged with is enormous. I'm fairly certain that this is unprecedented,” Oliver Trenerry announced sternly.

“The latter will be a particularly sensitive process. I propose building a top-to-down introduction. What I mean is, we need to create an operational framework in which we progress in carefully timed increments until we find ourselves with a fertile ground for presenting this document. It is a sequence of logical steps.” Jackie McCold looked up.

 

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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