General Thomson, as head of the international project on Ascension Island, looked round at his team of experts, seeking full agreement with them. He had been keen to see his ideas implemented
He felt somewhat relieved, for he had not been sure what would be the outcome of his crop of suggestions. He did not want to be the one to suggest everything. It suited him better to have some ideas come from the civilians. This maintained his position as a friendly and consulting commander.
"Oh, General? May I mention an idea that came from one of the Personalia?" General Thomson looked up in surprise at Bob Kempe, the Brit from the UK intelligence community. The "Personalia" was the accepted term for the intelligent spaceship aliens they had met. These beings were a machine race, originated by a now-extinct biological race that they had revered. The creator race were the Malans, of the planet Mala. The planet had been devastated by the Invaders a machine race that attacked all lifeforms.
"The Personalia reckon that they can put together an anti-gravity wheelchair for Gus Derwent, the diplomat." The General nodded to show he remembered the need. "This wheelchair would also employ miniature jet engines with variable-direction thrust, for steering; and they are thinking of patenting the idea. I have suggested they set up a private company to exploit this commercially, along with a trust fund for them as a conduit for utilising the cash generated. What would you think of such a scheme?"
The officer thought for a moment, then responded, "Sounds sensible. They might as well have themselves a source of funds for whatever they fancy spending it on and a company exploiting new patents is ideal for them. Have you thought about who should head up this company?"
"Nope." Said Bob. "It was just a short discussion. It was cut off by other matters."
The General mused, "You really want to have someone with technical knowledge. The company will have to develop a range of products based on the patents, and that needs a scientific brain. How about young Sye? He has the technical and scientific background, and he is young enough to have the flexibility needed to find new ventures worth pushing. You'll also need a good accountant, but that expertise does not lie with your colleagues! The reason for mentioning an accountant is that one needs some initial capital to cover all the costs of setting up the company, paying the costs of patenting ideas, and developing contacts with manufacturers who will build the products. I could divert some of my discretionary funds into that; the justification being that it would improve Personalia/Human relations. Yes, I do believe that would work."
Sye Lownie, the expert on orbital debris, was sitting with his mouth open in surprise. He had not expected this, but could see the logic behind it. He decided he had better add a contribution to the discussion. "There is another point. Such a trust fund might be used to pay for PR work, to show the Personalia in a good light: as victims standing up to the Invader aggressor; valuable allies against the Invaders. I think a trust fund would be a great plan."
General Thomson nodded in approval. "Yes, I think you might do, for the post. You have the enthusiasm of youth, and an educated head on your shoulders; plus recent valuable experience. You will have to go to London, to what used to be the Patent Office. It is now called the Intellectual Property Office. The staff there can guide you through the form filling for patents. Have you got the design for the wheelchair and miniature jets?"
He stopped himself at once, with a snort; and resumed his speech. "Of course you don't. It is too soon for that to be in your hands. We'll ask the Personaliens to provide the text and drawings for the patents. We have to set up a company, and register it in London as an initial step. A name for it: we need something that is at once innocuous and at the same time evokes the Personalia. Any suggestions?"
The others stared at him, amazed at the drive of such an elderly man. They had to switch gear to keep up with him. Their minds churned, trying to find an apt company name. "Personaid? Pertech? Permala? Spacetech? Spaceaid? Helpers? Spacehelp? Spacemakers?" The names tumbled out from the group as they saw possibilities. Diane, the Colonel in the US military, added, "How about Machinations? I know it also refers to the other machine race, but if the Personalia have no objections?..."
Sye was looking pleased. "I like that one, myself. It has a ring to it, relates to the technology and a machine race, yet it doesn't tell you anything about the owners. In fact, it could even be misleading in its title."
The General was satisfied. "I like it too. It has that generalisation that one would seek, and conveys the technology angle well. It also suggests that the company is prepared to be a bit underhand in its dealings. That kind of mild salaciousness goes down well. If the rest of you have no objections, I think we suggest to the Personalia that we register their company as "Machinations Limited". He raised his voice: "What do you Personaliens think of it?"
The others looked distinctly puzzled at this outburst. He explained, "Sorry, team. I linked my office sound system to an open transmission to the Personalia via the ship currently here. They have been able to listen in."
"Indeed we have, General Thomson, sir." Came a distinctive voice out of a loudspeaker. "We very much liked what we heard. You have our agreement to proceed with setting up the company, and the patents, just as you outlined. We shall transmit the specifications for the wheelchair and the miniature jet engine within a few hours. We have examined the online application for a patent, so there will be no delay. One of us is working on it now. Some of the parts have to be specific materials, particularly the miniature jet engine. There may be a requirement to register the miniature turbine separately. The high temperature ceramics may also be an individual application: so you may have to apply for several patents on this occasion."
The General asked, "And the company title?"
There was a small laugh. "We have no objections to the title of Machinations, Limited. We can see the humour in it, but to most humans it will be innocuous. Go ahead with it."
"Fine," declared General Thomson. "In that case, I think that Mr. Lownie here would be best sent to London to set things in motion. I shall get one of my legal friends to call on you before you set up the company, Sye. He has done that sort of thing previously, so should come in handy for your case. I shall warn him that the true company owner is "offshore", and contactable only through Mr. Lownie, who will be the nominal proprietor and the go-between. Sye, I shall get the name to you before you board the aircraft to England."
Sye was busy over the next few hours, preparing to leave for England, but be was forced to wait until a seat could be found for him on a homebound plane. An envelope from the General's office was handed to him in the air movements office. As he continued to wait, another report came in from the Personalia about their search mission. The latest planetary system had been entered and found to be barren, and had always been so. Preparations were now in hand for the next star in the chain, as the Personalia searched for signs of the Invader ships. This settled him somewhat. He would not fancy leaving just when an action was starting.
Some tiring hours later, his plane arrived at the RAF base not far from London. He had a reservation at a popular London hotel, and once he had registered and settled in, he emailed the General with his hotel name and room number. He now had to wait for the legal eagle to fly to his nest, so he took the opportunity to phone his parents and let them know where he was.
His mother was delighted. "Sye! Great to hear from you, spaceman. The neighbours keep asking what you are up to. Oh, and if you can make it, you have a wedding invitation. One of your school chums is getting married at the weekend."
"Thanks, Mum. I am in London to set up a company to market innovations in technology. I was asked to front the company for some friends who don't want to be involved with the business side of things. They are paying all the costs involved, so I won't be out of pocket: in fact, they intend paying me as an officer of the company! So, where's the wedding, and who is getting hitched?"
His mother consulted her notes. "It is John Gowans, you remember him? He joined Police Scotland and graduated from Tulliallan Police College last year. He was postit tae Steenhive and met this quine there – she was a civilian employee at the cop shop. Her name's Jean Forsyth, and the wedding is at the Piskie church – St James the Great – doon by the Carron Water."
"Och, aye. I mind seeing that when I was last in the town. An' far's the reception? One of the local hotels?"
"Of course. Upmarket for them: The New County, I think it is. Are ye goin' then?"
"I'd like to, Mum. Probably more of my school pals will be there. Mind you, it will depend on when I can get away from London. I may be able to catch the Aberdeen train and get off at Stonehaven, then get a room in the hotel. It saves time. I don't expect I'll get to see you on this trip – unless you got an invite as well?"
"No such luck. Young Gowans was seldom round here, and the lassie widna ken us from Adam. Never mind, just enjoy yersel, and gie our love to a'body that wid ken us."
"O.K. Bye, Mum."
.... There is more of this story ...