3 of 7 | Chapter 7

 

“Sounds good to me,” said Karen smiling. ”I'll get tickets then, shall I?”

“Get quite a few. We will give them out as gifts, but make sure ours are for a separate night.”

“Okay, will do. Oh, by the way, Miss Broadcasting called. She was asking when could you spare some time for her.”

“When we are done with the factory opening.”

“I'll let her know. Hopefully this one doesn't end up in chaos, like the last one,” she added, almost reproachfully.

“I don't intend it to,” he replied, catching her meaning.

“Okay then, have a nice day,” said Karen cheerfully and the connection went silent.

*

Steersman paid a brief visit to the energy research department, where an equally important mission was being undertaken: to discover possible methods for generating electricity with DCG devices.

Department engineers were running the DCG spheres at highs speeds in a test chamber and were investigating the relative forces they exerted on each other.

“Neil, how are you getting on?” said Steersman unexpectedly from behind, making research engineer Neil Gibbs jump. Neil was in charge of the department.

“For now, we're looking for any signs that we are on the right track. We have managed to get them to circle each other but they're not generating energy yet,” answered Gibbs.

“We need documentation for every variation you test,” said Steersman.

“Yes sir. We're using the CCI system. Surprisingly, this morning we received a few suggestions from the system based on yesterday's results. Some of them we've found extremely interesting, so we are going to be trying them out.”

“Good! We have to be at the point where we are producing energy, however much, within the month. The important thing is to see if the idea works or not.”

“I have to say that this technology is certainly keeping the team on its toes. We're positive that it has many possibilities.”

“Yes, I think so too,” said Steersman. “We will definitely be able to get at least one useful concept out of it.”

 

Seclusion

Having left the energy research center, he headed towards a deserted outer area through the western passageway where, for now, only standby lights were on. In the north-west wing of the science center the second manufacturing plant had been completed, but officially there was nothing in the second sector yet and the com-network wasn't online either.

Inside a blind darkness awaited. Even without sight he felt the vastness surrounding him, so vast that sound didn't even echo back from the distant walls. Using a switching console hanging above him, he switched on lights over a distant, fenced area, that was covered by awnings. He walked over and stepped behind them.

Glass scaffolding stood in strict rows and on shelves there were hundreds of DCG spheres spinning in their stands. They were all of different sizes, but they were much smaller than the spheres that operated the vehicles that were being constructed. Some of them were a few centimeters in diameter, like glass marbles. They glowed softly from the inside and gave out a faint murmur of sound.

At the end of the scaffolding there was another tarpaulin that obscured something completely different from view. He pulled it aside and stepped past it into the gloom where he could still see spheres floating irregularly, each one attached to the next in strings of glowing beads that curved up into the blackness.

Another switch chased away the darkness as, one after another, lights that were fixed to a tripod lit up.

As the darkness fled, a bizarre sight emerged.

In the state they were in, the robot bodies were far from recognizable. Limbs were lying scattered on metal tables and bodies and heads were hanging from scaffolds, waiting to be assembled. Steersman removed the covers from two models that were standing at the back. They were ready. He had been experimenting with several design variations, one of which had barely any human characteristics. Instead of a head there was a flat, disc-like shape that was attached to a robust, curved frame. It didn't move with limbs, but rather on smoothly gliding tracks.

Gravity orbs glowed in holes at the extremities of the form, on the shoulder line and in place of vertebrae. Because of these, the robot was lighter than a child, and moved faster than any natural life-form on earth. They were coded PG, or personal bodyguard.

Steersman prepared the robot for testing. He wanted to run a test on number nine, but before doing so he ran a diagnostic analysis on the chest panel.

“PG-9, wake!” he ordered finally.

His terse voice command switched the machine into operation.

“PG-9, ready,” it resonated with a distorted hum.

The robot followed him a few steps behind, as he walked to the next machine.

“PG-10, wake!” he repeated the order to the second model, then marked himself with a red laser light.

“Target is active!” he said to PG-10.

The enemy test-robot moved forward, turned its disk-like head towards the target, stretched its frame upward and began to observe Steersman intently.

“Attack!” ordered Steersman.

The spheres embedded in the frame began to glow, increasing the anti-gravitational energy, and the machinery shot out like a bullet.

In answer, PG-9 jumped across like lightening to stand in front of Steersman, shielding him from attack. A grinding crash echoed across the space as the two parried, but destruction was inevitable with the collision between the robots causing wide ranging havoc. Although the surrounding environment was in ruins, Steersman remained safely standing on his position and thirty seconds later the enemy robot ceased to operate.

PG-9 was also unable to fulfill any further commands as it had been completely destroyed.

The test was successful.

 

Testing

That afternoon the entire test research staff moved outside to the simulation area to begin evaluation of each prototype. Fortunately, the weather was mild with a light breeze from west making conditions perfect for a lengthy session under the open sky.

Danny Hofferstein, the chief test engineer, was considered to be a true veteran in the world of high technology, his Formula-1 past raising him to an irreproachable professional level. Although these new vehicles were not nearly as powerful as his previous charges, the new technology had the attraction of being at the forefront of technology.

Hofferstein was somewhat concerned at the results of one of the tests, and was in the middle of a discussion with development engineers when Steersman arrived.

“Gentleman, what seems to be the problem?” he asked the engineers.

“The change in acceleration! It's too steep,” Hofferstein, who was looking a little harassed, said to Steersman.

“I was suggesting that we adjust the opening and closing speeds of the lamellas, though we did want a fast car,” said Alec Samuelson, apologetically.

“It accelerates too quickly?” asked Steersman.

 

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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