1 of 4 | Chapter 8

GlideCraft

 

It had taken three weeks of test runs before the first reliable series rolled off the production line. Steersman was no longer able to remain patient by the end. While teams under Alec Samuelson, the chief engineer and the vehicle manufacturing director, Jamie Ryder sorted out any problems that arose, Steersman forced himself to become engaged in other organizational matters to stop himself running in circles.

The vehicle developed by ASEC had been officially named and brought to the attention of the public as the Gliding Personal Transport Vehicle or, in short, the GlideCraft.

The newly established media communications office had come up with the name. The unit was located at the ASEC headquarters in Steersman's office building. Their aim was to serve authorized information to the outside world in the best way possible. The team was led by Oliver Trenerry, a capable man in his late forties, an industry icon who had transferred from the European news agency.

Their first task was to immediately organize the world premiere of the GlideCraft, a miracle that they performed in an incredibly short time. Fortunately, the vehicle did not need special effects to make it stand out. Its properties were far superior to those of any other vehicle on any road in the world.

Although it was only available for pre-order, for the press, it was a hot topic right from the word go, and in the news, it continuously ran under the ‘technological revolution’ headline so—free of the disadvantages of combustion-engine powered and electric drive vehicles—the new technology quickly caught the imagination of the public. Meanwhile, television channels all vied with one another to give the best reports of the big event, easily converting public interest into open desire.

For now, the first GlideCraft salons had opened only in Excolopolis, and despite the fact that consumers all over the world were used to an abnormally high level of choice, they accepted the fact that only three colors were available rather well. Then again, that the new car was available in male and female variations proved to be an excellent idea.

There was of course much that needed to be done for the cars to be shipped abroad; first, the car had to be approved, the technology had to pass complicated technical examinations to ensure that it met international traffic requirements. Steersman knew that the vehicle was safe, otherwise he would not have let it out onto the roads, but the city had its own rules and he did not give a damn about bureaucracy which was, as he had always said, just a dense forest of convoluted rules that gulped down public money as quickly as it could. He loathed politics. In his heart, he longed for the moment when the ‘coyote ugly’ system would be replaced by a far better one.

“What do you think of the campaign launch?” asked Oliver Trenerry.

Steersman had seated himself opposite Trenerry in the presentation room of the communications unit, where they were analyzing feedback with several other analyst specialists.

“It's strong, just the way I like it. This is what I've expected from the team. People are talking about this vehicle everywhere and it's gone viral surprisingly fast. As far as reactions go, they haven't exceeded our expectations, but if resistance comes with recognition, then it means gravy for us,” Steersman grinned.

“Yes. It doesn't matter who talks about it, it can only be good for us,” agreed Trenerry.

“The industry has to accept that the concept of travel is being rewritten. This is not simply another product out there on the market. This is the market itself now. Either they pick up the pace or get left behind. People are going to be able to run the GlideCraft at a fraction of current vehicle costs,” Steersman explained.

“What about other car manufacturers?” asked Oliver.

“Each of them, almost without exception, is experimenting with this new technology. For them, the biggest drawback is that they have to trash decades or even centuries of knowledge and habit. The ASEC doesn't want to compete with them, we need them. Supply has to be maintained and this can be achieved with the capabilities of the world's existing automobile factories. We provide the drive and they supply the comfort, elegance, design, and anything else they want to develop.”

“Then, all they need is time,” said Trenerry.

“And a bit of incentive,” Steersman added.

“We've put together a mock-up for a promotional film that I would like to present, if I may,” said Trenerry.

“Yes, of course, please do.”

The presentation was led by a woman who, until that moment, had remained silent. She stood next to a large display.

“Our idea is based less on the facts, as the press has that pretty well covered, and more on a classic, car marketing vibe with a slightly less conventional twist,” she said, and asked the technician at a desk near the side of the room to start the video.

The film contained a fast sequence that showed a GlideCraft accelerating rapidly in extreme conditions. Meanwhile, the image sequences diverged from the present and into the past. Barely noticeable hints of former civilizations began to appear, with objects, buildings and people and finally, the road wound through lava flows and ancient moorlands. The camera circled the vehicle 360 degrees as the view cut from picture to picture. The film was enhanced with euphoric Indian music that had been remixed into a modern pastiche that fit perfectly with the increasing tension of the film. Then, all pictures and sound suddenly disappeared, only an echo remained, like a final catharsis.

The lights came back on in the room.

“Whose idea was the music?” asked Steersman. No one in the room could decide whether Steersman liked it or not.

“I'm afraid it was mine,” answered Trenerry, a little worried.

“Perfect!” said Steersman. “So much so that it will be worth working around this music. I want you to conceptualize the ASEC name. The GlideCraft is just the beginning. We do not just produce consumer goods, we have a mission! We are going to put things right in the minds of the public. I hope you are all up to it.”

“We are on it, Mr Steersman,” answered Trenerry, confidently.

Steersman thought for a moment, then continued, “I want you to organize an exhibition for all of the worlds car manufacturers to show their vehicles built with DCG drives. Plan it and get it organized. From our part, we will build the venue.”

“You want them to compete within the frame of an exhibition?” Trenerry looked enthusiastic.

“Exactly. The manufacturer with the model that gets the most recognition will receive four million units of the drive as a reward. Work out all of the angles, what we need to take into consideration, like, what channels we'll use for voting, everything. Work it out to the last detail and I'll want daily reports.”

“Yes, Mr Steersman, all totally clear.”

With that, the meeting ended, and Steersman left the room.
 

 

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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 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