Anglic Union

“As you wish,” Tzoltzin answered.  “Your position agrees with precedent.  It just makes things slow.”

“To give you news you may find more positive,” Bell said, “you had asked to speak to Victor Chelan. By the time you are finished with your inspection, he will be available for an exchange of opinions.”

“This is indeed good news.”

“And here is the ship dock,” Bell said. She pointed at a bright white dome two hundred yards across.  “For your purposes we would best enter through the side door B.”  She pointed.  The transporter wheeled inside.

Construction Dock 3 was brightly lit, a highly reflective roof removing every shadow.  The air was warm and pleasantly dry.

“As you see,” Bell said, “We’re only assembling ship framing as needed to support modules as they are installed.  From this angle you can see where decking will be inserted.  However,  in the area toward the bottom where there are already deck plates, down and toward the rear, you may be able to make out where several drive and fusactor modules have been inserted.  You asked, so we’ll look at those first.”  The transporter wheeled down a ramp.  “As your inspection probe should show, those are both beta drive cores.  The large object in between is a conventional low-field civilian fusactor.”

Tzoltzin looked at his handcomp.  “Indeed,” he said, “I confirm that these are beta cores, and that the device between them is indeed a high-power low-field fusactor.  None of these would be expected to have IP tags.”

“Now perhaps it is clearer why I meant no offense, when I said you would not be getting the IP codes. There were none for you to receive.  I can also point out where the other fusactors and drive coils will be mounted,” Bell continued. “There’s four of each in a square down there, and another square of four, to be installed near the top of the ship, where the strakes and ribs have yet to be installed.”

“I see,” Tzoltzin acknowledged.  “As per treaty, I need a few minutes to record all this.”

“The treaty is clear,” Bell answered.  “If you want us to adjust the listing, you have but to ask.”

“Not necessary.”  His free hand made a gesture of negation.  “I should apologize for doubting your honesty.  A ship without alpha cores? In my many years as an Inspector, this outcome has not previously arisen.  You see, when you reach my age – when I was born, this continent had not yet had European settlements — you can still have new experiences.  This is good.”  

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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