2 of 7 | Chapter 7

 

He had already visited the science center early that morning. It was impossible to traverse the entire site on foot, so he had taken an electric shuttle along one of the underground corridors, where a high-speed elevator had delivered him directly from the office level. From the spacious gray-and-white patterned hall, entrances opened out to all existing and future tower sites, but for the time being it seemed as bleak and bright as an enormous concrete shell.

Sooner or later, tens or even hundreds of thousands would be working there, carrying out research, experimenting, building prototypes, and of course preparing highly detailed plans for mass production. To supply staff with such huge amounts materials without downtime required a massive and precise logistics organization. The powerhouse behind the supply system was the distribution center.

To date, only two research groups had moved in. One of them—the division in charge of ground level vehicle development—was testing future passenger and freight vehicles built with DCG drives; the other, an energy technology division, carried out energy resource research looking into opportunities for further energy transmission. For the present, they were both focused on investigating new applications for the DCG spheres.

Steersman rolled along a wide corridor, connecting the service units, in the main block that housed the seven major research departments. The logistics center operated in the middle of the main block, where shipments from all over the world were reviewed, separated and sorted according to destination. Equipment was arriving round the clock, the endless lines of delivery trucks waiting above ground to deliver their cargo. Each delivery was signed in on the ground level of the distribution center, underwent decontamination, then the delivery contents were checked in a scanning tunnel. If the contents matched the procurement database and complied with safety regulations, then the shipment was sealed and lowered into the underground complex. At that point each incoming shipment was sent on to be distributed to each department via the internal transport system. The main block was the only area where traffic was continuous, cavalcades of equipment giving it the aspect of a long-established science center.

Steersman parked in front of the vehicle development unit. Research unit leader Alec Samuelson, seeing Steersman at the entrance of the laboratory, hurried towards him, gesturing excitedly. He was a short energetic man, who spoke with a strained quality, as if he were trying not to let his tongue get away on him.

“Mr Steersman, good morning!” he greeted.

“Good morning, Alec. How far did you get, overnight?”

“I have some good news, Mr Steersman. We've found solutions to two critical weaknesses in the device in terms of control,” he said, referring to the problems that the DGC drives had been experiencing when applied to every day use.

“I'm all ears,” said Steersman expectantly.

“The first problem was that the device was able to decelerate to zero velocity within a split second; a bit like a man hitting a brick wall, if you follow me. The other problem was that the device could turn ninety degrees quite suddenly, a useful thing while parking at slow speeds, but catastrophic at higher speeds. In both cases, electronic systems will be able to control the lamellas. Direction will be controlled with horizontally placed lamellas and braking forces will be covered by vertical lamellas. With these issue rectified we now have everything required for safe driving.”

“Have you installed the drive into a vehicle yet?”

“We are working on it right now. It shouldn't take long,” Samuelson answered. “However, there are still many details missing that will be required for mass production. This is just a working shell. There is nothing around it, no chassis, no body … no interior.” Samuelson looked worried.

“The vehicle interior will be delivered by a contracted supplier as a completely encapsulated pod system. In the interior pod, all amenities and functional tools will be pre-installed: internal linings, seats, security systems, framework reinforcement and crash cushioning foam. We only need to prepare the frame to accept this pod, with power supply, etc. I've made all of the specifications available in the CCI system.”

“Excellent! That means we'll be ready very soon,” said Alec. “When will we receive a test sample of the interior pods?”

“We're still waiting for the frame to be functionally perfect, but they should be here within the hour,” said Steersman.

“Fantastic! Should we plan for one vehicle size?” asked Samuelson,

“Mass production will start with a male and a female design, each differing in size. Production vehicles will initially be made available to the consumer in three colors.”

“I see.”

“Talk to Jamie Ryder. He's in charge of vehicle production.”

Alec nodded. “Yes, he's already paid us a visit.”

“The best idea would be to get him involved at the developmental stage. The smoother the transition to mass production, the fewer problems we'll have.”

“If the database contains the final parameters and we receive the pods, then we can build the prototype immediately. We'll then go over it with Mr Ryder.”

“I need you to enter every detail of every event into the shift report, as soon as possible, at the end of each shift. Enter the report into the CCI database, along with all development papers, videos and simulations. I won't tolerate failure to do so,” said Steersman.

“Of course. I've already prepared the documentation. I have not yet accustomed myself to the administration side of my responsibilities, but it won't be a problem,” said Samuelson.

“This is not administration! The CCI database is a record of the full history of development and research, including all errors, dead ends, and end results, whether successful or not. From the logs, the central cognitive intelligence system will make conclusions and give us invaluable suggestions. The more information we have, the more useful the resulting data will be to us. This is why I can't allow anyone, anyone working in this center, to leave any experience unrecorded,” he said sternly.

“Okay, That's clear. It will be incredibly important,” Samuelson agreed, sheepishly.

“The interior pods will arrive shortly. Look through the plans!” said Steersman over his shoulder, as he was leaving.

“Yes, Mr Steersman.”

Steersman went further into the main block and contacted Karen over the inter-com network.

“Karen, please call the company supplying the interior pods and tell them I need ten samples of each design within the hour; and please tell logistics that it is a priority delivery! Get them to deal with it as soon as it arrives! ” he said.

“All right,” Karen replied.

“What is the situation in the city? How is your assistant getting on?” Steersman asked.

“He's coping well. The Diamond Hall auditorium has just been completed,” said Karen.

“Okay, I'll have a word with him later.”

“I've passed event management duties over to him as well. He loves it. He's already organized the Vienna Philharmonic to come in three weeks time and perform for several nights. So far, I'm happy with Patrick's work, but you know me, always looking for perfection.”

“Yes, always. That's why I chose you, Karen.”

“And how is the car production coming along?” asked Karen.

“It's about to start. In three weeks, we'll even be able to go to a concert in one of them if you like,” he replied.

 

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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 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 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH