2 of 4 | Chapter 8

 

Premier in the city

By evening on May 15, 2076, huge crowds had begun gather so that they could get the best places at the opening parade where the GlideCraft vehicles that would be available for purchase would officially be presented to the public.

Within a short time of its founding, the ASEC had come to be considered the major employer in Excolopolis. At that moment, all of the intellectual energy of the entire staff was concentrated in this task. Everyone worked as one on the success of the GlideCraft—each in their own way and in their own area of expertise.

This time, Steersman had remained in the background for several reasons. Firstly, he did not want customer attention to be diverted elsewhere, especially now that he went nowhere without his bodyguards; and he also wanted to push the ASEC brand to the front and not the name of Steersman.

As the new name still sounded unfamiliar and in the minds of the public was as yet unconnected with activities in the outside world, ASEC was slowly beginning to involve itself in projects that had a global effect. Even labor recruitment was already up and running under the ASEC banner for the vehicle manufacturing plant in sector one, which took up a significant part of the entire center: three large hexagonal areas adjoined another hexagonal central area from three of its sides.

Jamie Ryder, the vehicle manufacturing director had not met his family too often over the past months, often not even going home to sleep. His wife had only been able to bear her husband's absence with difficulty, especially that they were only a few kilometers apart, and as time went by, she had become more and more affected by it. Her behavior showed some colorful changes, but now that she was finally able to see some tangible results of her husband's work, she felt a surge of pride and a lifting of the burden of loneliness; she only wished she could tell him personally.

Sean Steersman was very well aware of what he required from his staff. The higher the pressure he put on the individual, the more prominent the attention that person received from him. He had more tools up his sleeve than pure financial remuneration. On his orders, the workers of ASEC were cared for like Persian princes by the service staff. During this period, everyone worked eighteen hours a day, broken only by sequences of mental and physical regeneration using programs that were highly recommended for anyone employed under ASEC's policies.

For Jim Hols, there was an endless queue of construction projects that awaited him. Once he had finished the follow up work on the science center's development and production buildings, he hastily pulled up a staff training and equipment center in the south-west wing of ASEC, where recruitment and educational programs for specialists were now based.

All processes ran parallel to each other and, as more and more work joined the queue, Sean Steersman started to get really warmed up, even when the ground seemed to be slipping out from under everyone else's feet. He could see further than the current problems and wanted to document this day for humanity because he knew, as sure as anything, that it was something to celebrate for every human being on the planet, even if it was totally contrary to the interests of many.

*

The city was bathed in a sea of light by eight-thirty that evening. The colors that flowed around the gigantic buildings of the Business district created a spectacular, breathtaking vision. At that moment, the details of those lights truly captured the world's attention.

Thousands of GlideCrafts hovered in ranks along the city streets surrounded by the masses, people touching, stroking and staring. The interest of all flowed uncontrollably, caught up along with the superbly organized presentation. Many rejoiced and gave themselves up to the novelty of the experience. There were those who stood with mixed feelings on the edge of the events and silently watched the vehicles, but no one was left feeling indifferent.

Various events marked the big day: drag races, obstacle courses, virtuoso demonstrations of technical driving. Meanwhile, the bizarrely quiet hum that the vehicles made aroused strange feelings in many, a sound that they would soon become accustomed to in place of the familiar roar of combustion engines and the artificial sound of electric vehicles. This thought rippled through the audience, only for a moment, but it affected everyone.

With so many GlideCraft present, the one in which Steersman and Karen went to the concert venue swept through the streets unnoticed. They were heading to the Diamond Hall, where the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was performing Beethoven's 2nd and 7th Symphonies. Following them were two GlideCrafts that were packed with bodyguards. These vehicles were constructed with reinforced materials and equipped with information protection systems that made them essentially invisible to curious eyes.

“It feels a bit like sitting in a spaceship,” observed Karen, cheerfully. There was nothing casual about the interior; the usual angles and curves, so characteristic of passenger vehicles, were missing. It was like a large oval bubble, the interior lined with black silken material that enhanced the elegance. It was spacious enough for passengers to move from the front to the back seat.

The control console flowed across the width of the interior, with a number of unusual shaped monitors that transmitted information mainly from the outside world, but also showing the technical status of the car. The lights gently shone, back lit with hidden mood lights that only served to further enhance the experience.

“Have you been in many spaceships, Karen?” Steersman asked with a twinkle.

Karen pulled sour face, but she did not allow him to get to her. She was having great time and she liked the fact that, at last, she could see the results of their efforts. Those horrible months of stress mixed with uncertainty and, at times, danger that had put everyone's positions and lives at stake were finally justified. She did not want to think of the past. This was the beginning of the future. She looked out through convex window and could see the whole city, shining brightly, a hive of intense activity, it was the ultimate oblivion.

I have never seen anything like it in my entire life, she thought to herself. “Even during the Olympics they don't make this much fuss,” she said aloud.

“Olympics? Hmm, that's not a bad idea. We could organize it,” Steersman continued facetiously. “You're full of great ideas tonight, Karen! We could even have it on a giant spaceship, don't you think?”

“Yeah, why not?” Karen said casually, joining in.

Steersman smiled.

“I'm curious, how many of these have been ordered so far?” Karen asked.

“Well, so far, we have received orders for fifty million.”

“That many?!” she turned to face him in surprise.

“Well, it seems to increase by one million a minute,” said Steersman.

“Holy shit!” she exclaimed.

“The orders are rolling in nicely, mainly from the Far East and South America where, by the way, they are fairly preoccupied with developing vehicles of their own. Imagine that?” he feigned surprise.

“There's a lot of potential in those countries especially if they have the opportunity. They develop quickly thanks to their ingrained community awareness. If only the environmental damage wasn't so high there,” Karen said solemnly.

“We are going to change all of that, Karen, in our lifetime.”

Karen remained silent. Somehow, tonight, she could not doubt anything, especially with this man, at whom she shot furtive looks of admiration. He was still as inscrutable as the very first time they met, but now it did not worry her. She accepted that there was only one person able to keep up with Sean Steersman, and that was the mastermind himself.
 

 

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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