1 of 6 | Chapter 17

Defense corps

 

One and a half years after the eruption of energy war, the future of countries still operating on older technologies became more and more uncertain. These countries were still sufficiently developed militarily to be able to cause significant destruction in defiance of other nations or because of bitterness. Of course, their governments deliberately imposed barriers to the spread of new technology, meaning that simple smooth persuasion was not enough.

The ASEC maintained steady good relations with the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Nations of Europe. They, along with many other countries, after mutual consensus, began to dismantle weapons of mass destruction for the umpteenth time in history.

The elimination of national armed forces was still considered to be an illusion, but it was a promise that was given on the condition that there be a force preventing hostile actions anytime, anywhere and in any form; a force that would intervene to protect national integrity and sovereignty, when needed.

Steersman didn't need anything more. In fact, for those nations that actually took that step, he offered permanent and free energy supplies.

For ASEC to be taken seriously, the installation of the planned sensor network, sixty thousand kilometers from the Earth's surface, had to take place. After tests, the devices were continuously being put into orbit, but it still took months to position the more than fifty-five thousand probes in space, a thousand kilometers from each other. There was no need for the probes to move at the rotational speed of the earth as, in contrast with other satellites, they formed a single static network around the entire planet.

They had to maintain only one position: their set distance from each other. They passed information and directives as the location of each event required. Each probe was communicating directly with the four closest probes that were in constant and continuous contact with each other, practically forming one entity.

Meanwhile, work on the Sumo II cargo transport vessel continued—with some operational robots—carrying out precise maneuvering tests on the newly developed NGI drives while performing cosmic cleaning work out in space, gathering trillions of tons of space trash and debris which then was all delivered to Earth, where—after molecular neutralization—it was transferred to the ASEC raw material store.

After several months of testing and a lot of fine-tuning, the NGI drives overcame their ‘teething problems’ and, after some minor structural changes, the drives were classified as reliable enough for the first real use. The top speed—that they were capable of—had yet to be established because of the delicate nature of the circumstances shaping the navigation system.

In fact, it became increasingly apparent that ASEC spacecrafts would be using non-terrestrial technology developed by an alien civilization allowing them to far more effectively navigate the as yet unexplored cosmos which, in itself, carried some risk.

Martins began to explain, “The system itself works perfectly. It really does, although converting the static, spatial way of thinking we use on Earth to this new system is difficult. It's plausible though, because the alien system is extremely logical, and fortunately does not contain any factors that are not already known to us. Space, motion, gravity. We are familiar with these variables.” Martins paused to look around at the scientists that had gathered for the spontaneous meeting. The room was more crowded than perhaps expected because the Sumo II had just arrived back from space after rigorous testing of the NGI drives.

“So what's wrong with it then?” asked Karen.

“Well, it's basically the fact that the system is based on data sent by the aliens, and I really don't know how much we can trust it. Do we trust it blindly? Should we be cautious and remain suspicious of it? The stakes are pretty high if we consider the human lives and assets that will be under the control of this system,” said Martins.

“Fair enough,” said Neelam nodding. The team of Indian engineers had proved to be a good investment. They had quickly adapted to their new environment, and to working with the unfamiliar technology; and as a result of their work, the spaceships quickly took shape.

“Of course, we cannot blindly trust it until we really become familiar with it, that's clear. What do we have that can truly be trusted with any certainty?” Karen asked.

“The space-fragmentation scanner,” interrupted head of the navigation unit, Daniel Valsson.

“How does it work?”

“It is capable of mapping up to roughly half a million kilometers in any direction. It sends light packets to the desired sector, which then create three-dimensional images of objects located in space, a large number of images. From these fragmented spatial shapes it produces a single, complete and extremely detailed picture.”

“How quickly does it build the images?”

“The fragments are assembled within one thousandth of a second.”

“So we can pretty much say that we have a maximum of half a million kilometers visibility with this equipment?”

“Yeah. I know it's not much out in space, but for real-time mapping that's the guaranteed range.”

“If we consider that a vessel has a velocity of one and a half million kilometers per hour, then we can discern what lies a maximum of twenty minutes ahead of us.”

“That's also based on the supposition that an object, needing to be avoided, is not moving towards the vessel, because in that case it'll be much shorter.”

“Yes. So the only question then is, how quickly the ship can respond?” observed Karen.

Gibbs answered. “The octahedral arrangement of drivers allows the vehicle to deviate from it course in any direction. A few degrees change in direction can be affected immediately, but decelerating to a near zero kinetic state takes at least a few minutes, and the same applies to achieving maximum speed.”

“I don't feel that avoiding hazards is going to be at all problematic, even for objects approaching head-on. The fastest asteroids travel at one hundred thousand kilometers per hour, very slow compared velocities we can achieve with the drives,” argued Valsson.

“Maybe, but any sudden change in direction will have adverse effects. Because we'll be generating artificial gravity that will be identical to that on Earth, the loads will apply to all bodies on board in the same way,” said Neelam, drawing everyone's attention.

“We've been working on that. The vessel will detect loading variations and will adjust the artificial gravitational force to compensate and maintain constant gravity. Briefly, if there is a load of two Gs, the system will decrease the gravitational force by half to counteract this so that the perception of gravity for the observer on board will remain the same. This will work on any vector.”

“Okay, then we can use the space fragmentation scanner in the immediate area, and the aliens navigation system for positioning over greater distances.”

“Karen, I've suggested to Mr Steersman that we need a standardized measures to allow everyone to express themselves more concisely,” said Gibbs.

“Yes, he mentioned that. I've been also facing difficulties because of them, so perhaps it would be best if we start as soon as we can with the concepts related to these main areas. Dr Martins, would you please work on this with us.”

“Yes, of course. The girls are getting along well with the decoding anyway,” said the astrophysicist, with a crooked smile.

 

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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 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH