4 of 7 | Chapter 7

 

“Yes, and … well, it decelerates too quickly also. It would be far too drastic for public roads. If ordinary vehicles were to mix with anti-gravitation vehicles then there would be chaos on the roads,” explained Hofferstein.

“Because these cars stop sooner than conventional, fuel-based vehicles, crashes would be inevitable, even in the case of humans with super fast reflexes. The other issue is of course the greater G-load.”

“Why not limit the speed of lamellas change to a safe maximum value, or do we need to install smaller drives?” asked Steersman.

The test engineer and the development manager looked at each other in silence.

“Smaller?” asked Samuelson.

“Yes, like this,” said Steersman, and he casually pulled a small sphere, a few centimeters in diameter, out of his pocket. He then let it float in the palm of his hand.

The scientist studied the ball with an ecstatic, almost childish glow of enthusiasm on his face and began to hum quietly to himself.

“Would it be able to move an object that was almost one tonne?” Hofferstein asked.

“If there are sixteen of them, then it's possible,” said Steersman.

“But the chassis was made for four,” interjected Samuelson.

“Well … let's stick with the lamellas for now. Consider this plan B. Design a simulation that will show the effects of changes in sphere size on all parameters. From these tests I also want to know how much stronger and faster the vehicles are if the spheres are bigger. Is it directly proportional or an exponential increase? What are the limits? What else can we use them for?” he turned to the test engineer.

“Okay, consider it done.”

“And, test manufacturing starts in 48 hours,” Steersman informed them as he left.

 

Another interview

It was six in the evening when the media team appeared in Steersman's office. As they went in, their electronic devices became immediately inoperable. The building itself was surrounded by a field that disabled all electromagnetic radiation, blocking radio signals and disabling all electrical signals as long as Sean Steersman wanted them disabled, of course.

“I haven't seen you for ages,” Natalie greeted him, seemingly calmer and more balanced than she ever had before.

“How long has it been …? Half a year?” asked Steersman, smiling.

“Do you always neglect your friends so badly?” she teased.

“Only when I have to rebuild my life from scratch,” he said, wryly.

Natalie smiled back, her eyes resting for a moment on his face.

“Well, we sure went through a tough experience, didn't we?” she reflected.

“Yes, it's not something I'll forget lightly,” he added, “but as I hear it, it's been worth it for you: a Pulitzer prize, and so young … doesn't happen every day, does it?”

“Yeah, true, but I aged twenty years that night,” Natalie grimaced.

“You don't look a day older than thirty,” he joked, seeing the pain in Natalie's eyes, “But you … somehow … how can I put it, you look calmer I suppose. How are things?” he asked her.

“Good. Easier, I guess. I don't have to take every job that comes my way to prove myself, anymore. I went away on holiday to Bali for a while and I only got back a few months ago.”

“Good! I can see that it's given you some balance, seriously.”

Natalie was sitting on the sofa elegantly and next to her sat her new cameraman, who was nervous and obviously having trouble with the tripod.

“Where is Frank?” asked Steersman.

“Frank? Oh, he was sent to a Southern Chinese province, Guangxi or something. He's filming reports on the local gang war victims. He's gained quite a reputation, but he is driven. He can't bear not to be near some war zone or other,” Natalie replied. “I got him instead,” she nodded her head toward the young guy, “I hope the gear doesn't collapse,” she said rolling her eyes.

“I see.” Steersman smiled.

The young man was feeling more and more uncomfortable, and grunted in annoyance.

“Eddie, what is it!?” Natalie asked impatiently.

“Sorry, but I have no idea what's going on. It's not working! None of it!”

Natalie could do nothing but smile at Steersman, nodding.

“My darling one. It will not work until we start the interview. Calm down,” she said soothingly.

“It's not all that bad, is it?” Steersman said hopefully.

“Yeah, I suppose.” She looked at Eddie, who was still fumbling with the equipment. “You know, in the old days this would have driven me up the wall.”

When he was ready, Steersman turned off the electronic blocking system and the report began. In a blink, Natalie had turned from a chatty social butterfly into a highly professional journalist.

She was able to express herself with an elegance that few possessed, and nowadays she no longer needed any of her past false allure. She asked the usual questions about the changes, plans, and the press feedback on them, then she diverted the interview into more personal waters. She asked about his daily routine, where he ate dinner and how he spent his time. Steersman responded to those questions that felt comfortable with, but the answers to unwanted questions were shrouded in a vague fog of half answers and avoidance.

“Okay, let's go back to the science center,” said Natalie, finally giving up. “It's quite a bold undertaking. Building a city is one thing, but building a technological marvel is a completely different issue. We would like to be able to give it a name when we are talking about the science center.”

“What exactly do you wish to know, Natalie?” smiled Steersman.

“I'd like to know its name,” she said. “What is the scientific center going to be called?”

“Yes, I'm often chastised for not naming things …. Well, let's call it ASEC for now.”

“ASEC? I assume it's some sort of acronym ….”

“Don't ask me what it stands for, not just yet. You know, for some time I've been more careful,” Steersman prevented further questions.

“I see, but still, could you tell us a little about what is going on in this enormous complex?”

“Well, it's no secret. The ASEC is researching the, as yet, unexplored possibilities of Dark Core Gravity technology and it aims to make breakthroughs in areas of application that will allow our civilization to take a giant leap forward.”

“A giant leap forward? Could you explain that?”

“It will place in the hands of human kind the opportunity to change and move toward forward development instead of present race in increased demand for quantity. The question is whether we are ready to face that change, ready to take the opportunity.”

“I assume that you already know the answer to that question, don't' you?” said Natalie. “And you do all this in the interests of human kind? There is no personal interest behind all this?”

“What do you mean?” Steersman asked.

“Well, money and power usually come with some form of self-interest. Many people might rightly believe that you are manufacturing something that gives you a tool to manipulate or abuse them.”

“It's clear where we're going with this. I cannot say anything other than the time will come when people will think differently of ASEC.”

“ASEC” she repeated. “I think we can all begin to guess the meaning of these four letters. You really could just tell us.”

 

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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