4 of 6 | Chapter 9

 

“The position of the secondary spheres is also variable. We could subtract them from the drive, if we turn angle of the shaft. This would practically mean achieving a braking force,” Gibbs said.

Hofferstein still showed signs of doubt regarding the test, but there was nothing he could have said that would have convinced the scientists to relocate it. Samuelson was operating the console that controlled the lamellas and Gibbs was controlling the auxiliary units. The first part of the test was focused on the main unit; the shorter scientist, Samuelson began to gently pull one of the levers which regulated the opening speed of the lamellas.

Slowly he opened them out.

Although he was pulling steadily, the force did not disperse equally and the device begun to rise astonishingly fast.

“Careful!” shouted Gibbs.

Samuelson, alarmed, quickly closed the lamellas. The anti-gravitational force stopped immediately and the device fell back onto its stand like a lump of rock. It broke the stand with a huge crash leaving the scientists looking at each other in embarrassment, afraid that the drive itself might be damaged by the fall.

“That was good,” said Hofferstein, shaken “Let's try it again … with a little less vim, and perhaps with some more weight, let's say one tonne.”

The two scientist were still shaken by the incident, and they quickly agreed. They fixed a container above the drive and loaded it with one thousand kilograms.

The result was an even louder crash.

Robotic security personnel were already surveying the testing ground as Steersman arrived.

“So, how are you getting on?” he asked the worried scientists, who turned in embarrassment to face him.

“Well, we're just about to try another method for controlling the main drive unit. It keeps escaping,” Hofferstein quickly answered for them.

“What happened?”

“Well, as it turns out, the anti-gravitational effect is growing exponentially stronger compared to the opening speed of the lamellas,” said Gibbs. “Perhaps it can be slowed by the secondary spheres, but then it won't be enough to just incline the axis. We'll need to reverse it in relation to the direction of rotation.”

“Can you do that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“All right, let's see it!”

“Personally, I would increase the load,” said Hofferstein, gesturing towards the weights. “Perhaps fifteen tons for now.”

The two scientists looked at each other but dared not contradict him, and ordered the crane to add further weights.

Samuelson's hands began to sweat and he brushed them against his trousers. Concentrating hard, he moved the lamellas even more carefully, which resulted in the whole device lifting off nice and slowly.

Once in the air, he stabilized its position and it begun to float some distance from the group.

“All right. I've saved the data,” muttered Samuelson. “Let's have a look at the guidance system.”

Gibbs took the guidance control.

“First, let's try a horizontal rotation around the vertical axis,” he said, and opened one side of the row of lamellas.

The device started to rotate in the opposite direction but not for long. Gibbs did not want to go far, and he quickly closed them. The structure rotated further because of its inertia so this time he opened the lamellas opposite the direction of rotation, and it slowed.

“What sort of additional power assistance do the secondary spheres give?” asked Steersman.

“We haven't tested them, yet,” said Gibbs. “The main driver has already proved to be too strong.”

“Can you operate them now?”

”Theoretically, yes, but we always seem to come up against surprises.”

”Let's see!” said Steersman.

”Okay,” said Gibbs, and he put his hand onto the console. Involuntarily, he braced his legs further apart, and even Hofferstein seemed to step back a little. The energy research engineer activated the lamellas on the secondary spheres from the ground side and started to open them.

It shot up like a helium filled balloon, dragging the fifteen ton weight up with it and pressed itself against the ceiling with an ear-shredding grind. It moved back and forth, as if trying to push away whatever was blocking it. The watching scientists and engineers gasped collectively and one of the laboratory assistants gave an involuntary shout. Gibbs and Samuelson tried to cover their nervousness, without much success.

Working together, they finally managed to bring the monster machinery back to earth. They both looked exhausted.

“It'll be fine,” noted Hoffestein, and smiled.

“Yes. I want this monstrosity to float as freely and lightly as a feather,” said Steersman. “If needed, work around the clock. I don't care if you destroy the laboratory, but make it fly! I want reports every two hours and let me know if you need anything, ASAP!”

Hofferstein stayed behind giving advice to the stunned team. He managed to talk some life back into them, and it all started again.

 

University City

Just like theater scenery, the building was magnificent from the outside, the enormous facade a blinding white leviathan with statues of flexing giants on the battlements, while the interior remained bare and unfinished. Karen and Professor Hashimoto visited the PrEUST building, where there were still hundreds of workers working twenty four seven to make sure that the one and a half kilometer long, eight hundred meter wide, U shaped building would be ready for the grand opening. As opposed to buildings in the city, this citadel of the sciences was designed in a classical style, with heavy stone elements, pediments, antique ornamentation, and carved columns all laid out in a strictly symmetrical arrangement.

It was not ostentatious, but with its brutal size it was not subdued either. During all of this, the background organization was done at an unprecedented pace so that, apart from the outside construction work, the institution itself was also already to be up and running.

The underground parking area was filled by construction worker vehicles, and a number of elevators were available to take people up into the campus, where forests of native trees had been planted and a pond shimmered amongst the trees. One of the elevators took the guests into the middle of the forest. Stepping from the elevator they found themselves standing in a fairy tale.

“I called Mr Steersman from London yesterday,” said Mr Hashimoto, while following the path out of the woods. “I told him that I was being watched, and that implicit threats had been coming in since I left.”

Karen looked at him.

“What sort of threats? Who are they from?” she asked.

“I don't know. They were not threats in the usual sense. There have only been minor obstructions, and sometimes seemingly random accidents,” explained the professor.

“You mean, you were in danger?”

“Not really. I mean, not directly. Odd things happened, like, for instance, my laptop shorted out, my phone stopped responding. The GNS showed incorrect coordinates, and while traveling in the country I was compelled to stop many times by a fallen tree lying across the road, by traffic diversion, and then on the motorway a goods truck fell over. It was as if someone had been deliberately obstructing me from reaching my destination in time.”

“These are just annoying inconveniences,” Karen explained calmly.

 

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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 8 | GLIDECRAFT
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