Second Age of Discovery: the Explorers
Chapter 1

A new age of civilization was given birth on live television.

"Live from Studio 1A on Rockefeller Plaza! This is Matt Lauer and Katie Curac. Today we have a world exclusive interview and demonstration by Troy Blackdeer. His discovery and inventions will shake the world like the discoveries of electricity and magnetism once did. After these messages, Katie will begin with a demonstration you have simply got to see, to believe."

After paying the network's bills, the camera brought Katie's smiling face to a close up. Then it panned back to take in a stage with several covered devices, and a balding middle-aged man.

"Good morning. Today is February fourth 2006, and it is my honor to introduce Troy Blackdeer," Katie began, and then turning to Troy, simply stopped and said, "I don't know where to begin, Troy. Why don't you tell the world what you have for us, here, today?"

The camera zoomed in for a close up of the square jawed, powerfully built, smiling face. The world was seeing for the first of many times. Balding, with his long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, his brown skinned face grew more serious. He began to speak in deep modulated tones.

"Well, Katie, I've found that no one will believe my words until they see a demonstration, anyway. I've decided to start with a brief demonstration, first. Then maybe I'll have everybody's attention."

With that, he stood so swiftly that the camera couldn't keep him in the picture. The camera crew quickly panned back to take in the whole set.

Walking over to a table, Troy picked up two belts, each with two disks attached, one on each side. He then motioned Katie over, handed her a belt, and strapped the other belt on his own waist.

Troy reached down to the dial in the front of the belt, looked to Katie to see that she was ready, and they both turned their dials clockwise, a full turn. Suddenly, both Troy and Katie pushed off the floor, and drifted slowly towards the ceiling.

"Katie, how does it feel to be weightless?" Troy asked with a huge grin.

He pushed off the ceiling with a hand, and imparted a slow rotation to his decent.

"What you are seeing is the first public demonstration of the technology based upon my discovery. This is a personal gravity control belt. It allows me to set how much gravity I wish to feel. Through this technology (at very low cost, I might add), these devices can limit or even exclude the effects of gravity on any given volume."

He reached to his belt and turned the dial counterclockwise a quarter turn and began to accelerate slowly towards the floor.

When he reached the floor, he continued speaking as he began doing slow motion bunny hops, across the stage.

"At this setting I weigh slightly more than I would on the moon, and so, I move much like the astronauts of the Apollo missions did on their moonwalks. One advantage that I have, is that I can now experience it without wearing a bulky spacesuit. Its much more fun! Isn't it, Katie?"

Katie squealed in delight as Troy grabbed her ankle. With one hand and swung her in an underhand throwing motion. He released her at the top of the arc. Katie was sent slowly spinning head over heels, across the set. She bounced like a balloon off both the ceiling then the wall, before Troy offered her a hand, which she took. Giggling like a schoolgirl, she reached to her belt, and slowly turned the dial back towards the off position.

"That is so much FUN!" Katie exclaimed breathlessly. "Perhaps now with the preliminaries taken care of, you'd like to explain what we just saw."

"As I said, this is the first demonstration of a whole new technology. It has the effect of reducing or eliminating the effects of gravity, on a volume of space surrounding one of these devices," he said. He held up the belt, with one disk prominently displayed for the camera. "Each one of these disks contains two or more low power superconducting coils, and a refrigeration unit, to keep them at seventy degrees below zero. That is the temperature needed for them to retain their superconducting properties. A simple nine volt battery is the power source."

Katie broke in, "That is amazing! You mean that this effect can be achieved with only a nine volt battery as the power source?"

"Indeed, Katie. The effect is achieved by creating very high frequency matter waves in the superconductor. Most of the power from the nine volt battery is used to power the refrigeration unit. A single nine volt battery will operate the device for about 24 hours," Troy said. He paused, then smiled as he continued, waving his hand back at the still covered devices on the set. "In fact you've given me a perfect segue into the next, and perhaps the most important, of the other devices my company will be offering."

"Two of the most important issues facing society today, are power and pollution. With the ability to reduce gravity on a given volume, both problems are solved by simply tricking the Second Law of Thermodynamics," he said.

Then he theatrically swept the cloth from a large upright glass device. He pointed to the four small disks arranged on the right side of the glass.

"By eliminating gravity's effects on one side of the toroid, the weight of the water on the other side begins to push it upward," Troy said. "We eventually get a constant flow of water through the tube. By adding a simple water turbine to the apparatus, we can draw power indefinitely, with no pollution!"

"The production units will not be made of glass, the way this demonstration model is. We added a canister of dye, so that you can see the water flowing. So ... now I'll start the dye, and turn on the gravity devices," Troy said.

He pressed one button and a cloud of green dye began to form on the left side of the clear toroid, he then pressed another button, and immediately the cloud of dye was pulled down and attenuated, until within seconds it was a constant stream from the midpoint of the torus to the bottom. There the blades of the turbine broke it up, as they spun ever faster.

Troy stepped back and spoke again, "This small version is now generating over one kilowatt of constant output, more than enough for most homes' electrical and heating needs."

Over the last several minutes, the call volume to the network had climbed steadily. Suddenly, the phone system was completely overwhelmed. The Today Show's producer watched in amazement as the network's 'website hits', shot to an all-time high, then doubled and redoubled. Human civilization held its breath.

"So this technology is not only fun, but will cause some changes to society?" prompted Katie.

"Oh, yes! Cheap and pollution free power, that can be brought to wherever it's needed? That alone will have a dramatic effect on the energy industry, the power utilities, and eventually on the growth patterns of cities. My company plans to sell a unit sized to meet the needs of most residential properties for from $500 to $1,500. At that price, the average homeowner can buy one of these units, and pay it off with the savings from their electric bill in six to nine months. Furthermore, we will sell larger commercial and industrial units at costs that will reduce the energy costs of manufacturers by fourfold."

"That's amazing", Katie said breathlessly. She shook her head in negation, "I've said that too many times, this morning, but its true! You've mentioned your company, what is its name? And where are you headquartered? Perhaps you'd tell us how you propose to license this technology."

Troy leaned back and smiled, "Well I'm calling the company Gravity Industries Inc., or GI2, for short. Our headquarters is in Kansas City, MO, but we have already set up several regional factories. To answer the licensure question, we will be making actual gravity devices, and a line of products based upon them. But will be letting anyone in the world license the technology to manufacture their own, for a nominal fee per unit. I personally own the patents and twenty five percent of GI2, so I expect to set a record for becoming the richest man in the world! After all, it took Bill Gates nearly twenty years from the start of Microsoft to becoming the world's richest man. I think I will do it in less then five years. I expect to make billions in licensing from the automotive industry alone."

"Wait! Wait! You're saying you expect GM, Ford and the other major automobile manufacturers to buy this technology? To make what? Flying Cars?" Katie sputtered indignantly.

"Yes. Actually, I'm in negotiations with all of the motorcycle, automobile, and heavy equipment manufacturers at this time. I expect that you'll be seeing some new products from them, including retrofit kits," Troy said. He stopped and grinned as he continued, "That would lead us to our next demonstration."

He rose, and walked to another cloth-covered shape.

"This is an example of what can be done with our technology," he paused theatrically and grasping the cloth, "This is the sort of thing we expect the motorcycle companies to come up with. This is a very rough example, put together hastily by my engineers."

As he swept the cloth aside, a strange looking, and highly modified Harley-Davidson motorcycle was revealed. The wheels had been removed, replaced by four cylindrical housings. They were a foot long and a foot in diameter, paired front and back, and supported by struts about two feet from the centerline.

Troy stepped up and swung his leg over the seat, and pointed to the housings.

"Each of those housings contains a small but powerful electrical turbine. It is mounted on gimbals, so that the entire array can direct thrust in almost any direction. One of the reasons I don't want to get into the automobile business is dealing with the safety issues for a mass-marketed vehicle. In fact, this prototype is so tricky that I had to tell Matt he couldn't drive it this time."

Troy put on his helmet, and turned the key to start the Harley, which roared to life. Quickly, the producer switched to the mike built into the helmet.

"Without the gravity devices turned on, the 1200cc engine simply can't generate enough thrust for lift off, it simply doesn't have the power to weight ratio that is necessary," Troy said, raising his voice to speak over the rumble of the idling Harley as he manipulated the controls. Reaching for a dial in the center, he continued, "By turning the gravity down to 10%, there is a downward bias. I can still retain control near the ground. It requires actually directing the thrust downward to lift off, but now it has a power to weight ratio of three to one. That is, by the way, twice as good as an F22 fighter. Now, Matt insisted in being along for this ride so come and get on now, Matt. Also, Matt's helmet has been equipped with a camera, in addition to a microphone, so the viewers will see what he does."

Matt Lauer ran over, dressed in riding leathers, and a helmet with the visor up.

"We have opened up one of the big plate windows to the street, do you think you can maneuver through that?" Matt asked, pointing to the right side of the set.

"I hope certainly hope so, or this will be the shortest and most embarrassing demonstration on record," grinned Troy.

Reaching up and dropping his visor, Troy activated the turbines and applied power slowly. The motorcycle rose slowly as great gusts of backwash blew across the set, then in a tricky bit of maneuvering, he rotated and accelerated slowly toward the street, and the crowd outside. As the pair emerged onto the street, the crowd edged forward to catch a glimpse. As soon as they cleared the building, Troy gunned the motor and turned the gravity negation to full, the motorcycle tore for the sky accelerating to over one hundred twenty miles per hour in less than twenty seconds.

Matt Lauer let out an involuntary scream of fear, which turned to a whoop of triumph as they cleared the skyline and settled in to cruise at three thousand feet and one hundred thirty five miles per hour. "My God Troy how fast will this thing go?"

"With the 1200cc engine generating electricity for the turbines, she can cruise at one hundred and twenty miles per hour for three hours. She has a maximum speed of about one hundred and fifty miles per hour flying straight and level."

"What about maximum altitude?" Matt asked.

"Maximum altitude?" Troy mulled the unexpected question, "Well the gravity devices work at any height. But the engine is an air breather, and so are we. So, without pressure suits and oxygen masks, we need to stay below 10,000 to 12,000 feet."

With that he brought the cycle into a steep dive that brought them swooping around the Statue of Liberty and heading them back towards Manhattan. They approached Rockefeller Plaza at a more sedate speed of fifty miles per hour, and five hundred feet of altitude. They looked down and saw that the crowd had grown dramatically. It now spilled down to Times Square.

"Wow, what a crowd Matt. Want to give them a real show?" Troy inquired with a mischievous grin.

"Why not?" Matt replied and wiggled his feet deeper into the stirrups provided and tightening his grip around Troy's waist.

"Now remember, since we are weightless, you won't be pulled off by gravity, but there are still centripetal effects, when we change directions," Troy said, grinning evilly, "So ... HOLD ON!"

Turning one set of turbines up and the other down, Troy applied power slowly until they were corkscrewing over the crowd. The crowd went wild. Hearing their cheers, he turned all four turbines to a forty-five degree angle. He did a loop before landing next to Katie Curac, in the opening in the center of the street, protected by the barriers amidst the crowd.

Matt staggered to his feet, again feeling the effects of gravity.

He took off his helmet and over the roar of the crowd shouted, "That was the greatest ride ever!"

As the crowd roared with renewed enthusiasm, Matt turned to Troy.

"So now, maybe you'll tell us how you did this? I mean scientists have been saying for over a hundred years that it was impossible. What did you find out, that allowed you make this amazing discovery?"

"Well", Troy began, "My situation is not so different than that of Einstein, I dropped out of college, instead of high school as he did, but I always questioned what we were being taught. The scientific community couldn't do what I've done, because the Theory of General Relativity had become cannon. It is part of their belief system. Anyone questioning its tenets, was thrown out of the realm of hard science. They were relegated to mysticism and metaphysics.

"Back in college I realized that although we had theories that allowed us to derive the value of almost all physical constants. The value of the Universal Gravitational Constant had no theoretical underpinnings. So, despite its elegance, and ability to predict certain phenomena, General Relativity didn't meet all the criteria for a physical law.

"Furthermore, in my studies of Classical Physics and Quantum Mechanics, I saw how theories are eventually replaced. The first step is for some experiment to give different result than predicted by the theory," Troy said. He paused, clasped his hands in front of himself, and continued, "Now, historically, the scientific establishment will not pay attention to the first contradictory results. After all, they have invested their entire lives to that system of beliefs. Scientists are even less likely to admit that they have been wrong their entire lives, than anyone else."

Matt, listening intently, broke in, "But what contradictory results? I don't remember hearing about any experiments that gave results that contradicted General Relativity."

Troy smiled knowingly.

"Ah, now there's the irony of the situation. A series of experiments to measure the Universal Gravitational Constant were meant to improve the accuracy of our knowledge of this physical constant. It turns out we know the value of most of the physical constants to six or more decimals. But the last serious measurements of the Universal Gravitational Constant (or 'Big G', as physicists call it), was done in the 1870's. It was still considered 'cutting edge' science, then. We only know its value to within four percent. Some in the scientific community noticed this, and decided to do something about it. Four different groups decided upon different methods to measure Big G, to something like one in ten thousandths accuracy."

"And why didn't we hear about this?" Matt asked.

"Well, because if you asked the scientific community what to make of the results, rather than rethink everything they believed; they said that the experiments where flawed, and their results even more so." Shaking his head Troy continued, "That was the same way that Rutherford and Einstein's initial experimental results were received. As far back as college, I realized our understanding of Gravity was trailing the rest of the physics, by as much as a century. I assumed that General Relativity was a good descriptor of macroscopic effects. This is much like the way Electromagnetic Theory and Maxwell's Equations describe the effects of electrostatic and electromagnetic phenomena, but say nothing about the quantum effects that provide the deeper understanding of these same phenomena. That deeper understanding gave us access to superconductor, semiconductor and nuclear technologies."

Katie leaned in and asked, "What were these results, and what clue did they give you that led to this discovery?"

"As I said, there were four different groups: one Russian, one Japanese, one German, and one American. They all had different experimental methods meant to measure Big G to one hundred times its then known accuracy. When the results started to come in, the physics community was simply not ready to hear them.

"They measured Big G with great accuracy, and found different values, by as much as four percent! Not only that, but each was able to measure that the value of Big G changed over a period of time! This was astounding. But the scientific community, when asked about what it meant, simply explained it away as another failed experiment; just as they have when challenged, in the past."

Matt asked, "But what did you learn from these results?"

"Don't you see? I said I thought that gravity must have an as yet undiscovered quantum basis, for the macroscopic effects we see. This would mean that the Universal Gravitational Constant wouldn't be a constant, at all. It is simply an average value, over time!" Troy recanted excitedly. "I knew I must be right when I read the results!

"But, it wasn't enough. I had to be able to do something, either to affect gravity, to predict a change in the effects of gravity, or to measure gravity. No known electromagnetic effect had ever had any effect on gravity. I was sure that gravitational effects must have something to do with the wave-particle duality of matter. However, I realized that the wavelength of nucleonic particles, that is protons and neutrons, would be higher than any frequency generated by man, outside the big particle accelerators."

"I don't know what that last bit means Troy, but it doesn't sound promising," said Matt ruefully.

"Well, no, it wasn't promising at all. That is until I read about another unexpected and seemingly unrelated experimental result that the scientific community was ignoring. A group of Russian scientists, almost reluctantly, reported that an object suspended over a low power superconducting ring had its gravity reduced by four percent!"

"And yet they ignored that result as well?" asked Katie.

"Yes! I didn't make any sense of it, for almost a year. I knew, as well as the scientific community, that it couldn't be any known electromagnetic effect. The frequencies were too low for any of the effects I was looking for," Troy replied smugly.

"Well what was the breakthrough that got you started then?" Matt prompted.

"For that I'd like to introduce my partner,. He's the man that helped push me to understand what was going on in that Russian experiment. Gary Clarke, an old Marine Corps buddy of mine!"

Clapping, Troy stepped back and waved the camera and the crowd's attention to a tall, heavy, florid man. He was dressed in a one-piece blue jumpsuit.

"Welcome to the Today Show, Gary. Will you tell us the next part of the story?" Katie said, leaning closer to Gary and smiling.

"Sure Katie," said Gary with obvious discomfort. As he started to tell his tale, his voice and demeanor grew more confident.

"We were driving from Kansas City, Missouri, to The Dells, in Wisconsin. It was a long drive that we had made many times together. We both had children and ex-wives in Kansas City, and we worked in Wisconsin. I knew Troy had great interest in physics, and kept up with the discoveries in that field. I asked him to tell me what was going on, and he basically he told me much as he's just told you and the rest of the world," Gary gulped as he remembered his audience, but then gamely continued, "So I challenged him to think it through, if it couldn't be an electromagnetic effect, then maybe it had something to do with how the superconductor worked. So I asked him how does a superconductor work?

"He started to tell me that basically the electrons move through the crystalline lattice of the superconductor. As it approaches a pair of nuclei, the electron is accelerated by the electrostatic attraction to the positively charged nuclei. As it passes between the nuclei, it is attracted to it, and move closer. Then as it passes past the nuclei, it springs back into its position within the crystalline lattice.

"Then suddenly, his eyes glazed over, and he started mumbling incoherently for a few minutes. Turned to me and said, 'I've got it!'"

"What had you realized, Troy?" asked Matt.

"I had suddenly realized that as the nuclei moved toward each other as each electron passed, then moved back, that they would be moving at appreciable fractions of the speed of light, and that rather than just snapping back into place in the crystalline lattice, they would be vibrating around the equilibrium point, for each electron! Even at the very low current allowed in the class of superconductors that are called high temperature superconductors, there would be trillions of electrons moving through the superconductor. As each was moving at some eighty percent of the speed of light, each would be going around a nine-inch ring, once every billionth of a second!

"I did some quick math in my head. For the first time, I came up with a result within an order of magnitude of what was needed, to match the frequency of proton or neutron's wave functions! I knew that must be it! I finally had a way to generate matter waves, in the frequency range that might effect gravity!"

As they listened to the recounting of the moment of discovery, the entire world, by now watching on every network and news channel, saw the complete conviction, and pride of accomplishment blazing forth from Troy's eyes.

"I'm sure that you've just told us the beginnings of the story. After all I know how hard it was to convince the executives here at NBC of the veracity of your claims. They were entirely willing to blow you off as another crackpot until you buzzed the Station Manager's yacht with this amazing 'motorcycle' and then demonstrated the next device you promised us a world exclusive on," Matt said gravely.

"Yes, Matt", replied Troy. "We had great difficulty maintaining secrecy and yet generating the capital necessary to be ready for this moment. But enough of the stories for a moment, Gary will now demonstrate my favorite product that GI2 will be selling."

"Yes, Troy. Matt and Katie both insisted in helping with this part of the demonstration," said Gary.

He strapped on what looked suspiciously like a pair of wings, with a printed pattern like a tiger swallowtail butterfly. Keeping an eye on Matt and Katie as they put on their own wings, Gary shrugged his shoulders to get more comfortable.

"I read once in a science fiction novel, that the reason that man-powered flight was so difficult, was that we have such a low power to weight ratio. It is only about one fifth of that which is necessary, without exotic designs like the Gossamer Albatross. The Albatross was the first man-powered vehicle to fly over the English Channel. However, since the gravity on the moon is only one-sixth that on earth, a man could fly there in an atmospheric dome pressurized to one atmosphere. Now, we have the help of the Gravity Control Belts. We can lower our weight enough to fly, here, on the surface of the earth!"

As Katie, Matt, and Gary all turned their masses to zero, they took off with a down sweep of their strapped on wings. Troy began to speak again as the camera and the crowd watched their antics.

"The best method we have discovered is to reduce your weight to zero to gain altitude, then increase it to somewhere between five and ten percent, so you have a clear sense of up and down. You can also use the altitude to gain speed using aerodynamic effects. The fastest that anyone has been clocked, in one of these rigs, is just over one hundred miles an hour.

"For straight-line flight, maintaining anything over forty miles an hour would qualify as aerobic exercise. Still, it is great fun. It is also a serious means of transportation. My company is prepared to deliver it in quantities of hundreds of millions of sets, at a unit price of less than five hundred dollars.

"In fact, I've brought along a hundred sets to give away to members of the crowd here today!"

At Troy's announcement, the crowd, which like the cameras had been following the cavorting of Matt, Gary, and Katie in the air above Rockefeller Plaza, gasped, then surged forward clamoring for their own pair of wings.

Ten men stepped forward. Each was holding ten boxes that were between four and six feet long, a foot wide, and three inches deep. As they handed them to the outstretched hands of the crowd, Troy continued.

"There are currently over three hundred different patterns available, in three different models, each with a different purpose," Pointing to a long slender set of wings, "The long slender style is meant for speed and distance, and with these most people should be able to cover distances of twenty miles in less than thirty minutes. They aren't particularly maneuverable though," he shook his head and pointed to a short wider pair of wings. "This style is highly maneuverable, but not as good for speed and distance. We are thinking that many of the new sports that come out, will use this style."

Before he could point to the last set of wings, Katie and Matt landed next to him. Amid cheers, each grabbed microphones. Katie shrieked a war whoop.

Matt asked, "So do you see people commuting to work in these?"

"In some parts of the world, yes I do Matt. Here in the U.S. I see them filling the role of bicycles, mostly for recreation and exercise, a pleasure 'vehicle' I suppose. I have one more demonstration for today, which Al Roecher has been waiting in the wings to perform.

"This is an enclosed pedal powered vehicle. Even with only the power from an out of shape weatherman, it should be able to reach seventy miles an hour!"

At that, Troy turned and swept his hand towards Times Square. There the cameras found a small, shinning blue shape, approaching at high speed.

By now several in the crowd had struggled into their wings and were launching themselves into the sky. Alternating cheers and jeers came from the crowd. Some fliers, with no experience in the growingly crowded sky, flew erratically into light poles, buildings, street signs, and each other. As the blue object approached, the camera caught its streamlined bullet shape, with four stubby wings near the rear propeller. Al wisely decided to slow down and come in at ten miles per hour just ten feet above the crowd. Coasting to a stop, Al could be seen to reach to the controls through the canopy and twist a control gently. The craft slowly began to drift to the ground, and as it touched down gently, Al popped the gull wing door, and rose from a nearly prone position.

He stepped out of the vehicle, saying, "I've just flown in from Long Island, and boy are my arms tired!"

Nodding to the roars of laughter from the crowd, Al walked over and said, "That vehicle is amazing, Troy! I didn't even work up a sweat, flying in from my Long Island home, and I did it in," glancing at his watch, "twelve minutes flat! It's a commute of almost two hours at this time of day. What do you call it, an how much will one cost?"

"We call it the Air Cycle, one of the professional cyclists averaged one hundred twenty miles per hour in a twenty mile sprint," Troy said, smiling. "Of course that means he covered the course in ten minutes. But as to pricing, we weren't quite sure where to place the price point, but have decided to sell them at two thousand dollars for the one seat model, and three thousand for the two seat model."

Al shook his head, "Amazing, was your childhood hero Bell, Ford or Einstein? It seems to me, that with what you've shown here today, your name will be remembered with theirs!"

Laughing a bit self consciously, Troy answered, "All of them, Al ... and you forgot Edison. What we've shown you here today, is just the beginning. I have no more idea than Alexander Graham Bell had, what directions others will take this. Do you think even Bell envisioned a worldwide wireless telephone network? We have big plans for space vehicles, and I guess its time for the shameless capitalistic plug. Our corporate website is up. It is, and we are now taking orders for all of the products you've seen demonstrated here today. They will begin shipping immediately. Also, the outline of the theory and a detailed discussion of the technology itself, is available online for you see. I'm offering a reward of ten million dollars to a fully proven theory that stands up to scientific scrutiny that describes all of the effects we have discovered."

Matt frowned and stepped forward, "Won't this have dramatic military implications Troy? I mean just the added mobility of the motorcycle we flew earlier will change all of the military force equations worldwide."

"Oh, yes! In fact, the reason we decided to go public was the predictable government response would have been to hide the whole thing in a shroud of secrecy. We thought that the tremendous positive impact on the world economy would offset any military or law enforcement concerns. Especially when the market demands solutions to the new problems this technology poses."

"Problems like what?" asked Katie, and then elaborating, "What kind of law enforcement problems do you see coming from this?"

"As Matt pointed out, this will require a complete rethinking of all military doctrine and vehicle design," Gary said. "Since weight doesn't matter to this technology, tanks could become heavier and yet gain vastly increased operational and tactical mobility. Also, simply increasing the combat load a soldier could carry into combat has dramatic implications for combat infantry operations.

"Imagine a U.S. Marine (like I was long ago, and far away), dropped from a stealth aircraft miles offshore at midnight. Wearing a pair of wings he would be able to fly himself and a full combat load many times what he can currently carry, to anywhere within a two hundred mile radius before dawn. As to law enforcement? I would actually look back to the era of the famous robbers of the early twentieth century, and point out that the conditions that allowed Bonny and Clyde to exist, will soon exist again."

"What do you mean by that?" Al asked.

"What allowed Bonny and Clyde ... and all the rest of the infamous crooks we could name, I suppose ... was the combination of factors. Mobility on their part, and a patchwork of jurisdictions that allowed them to commit a crime in one state, then flee to another state before law enforcement had time to be notified of their crime and mobilize a response.

"I'm afraid that when the motorized vehicles start rolling out in numbers, that law enforcement won't be ready to deal with their ability to flee in three dimensions, and the tremendous range. Just think, what happens to border crossings when people can just fly over the nominal international border with almost no chance of being apprehended?"

"My God!" gasped Katie. "Maybe you should have kept is secret, just to give the government a chance to get ready!"

"For how long, Katie? I thought that once this genie was out of the bottle it might take decades for it to be completely assimilated by society. And that's with everyone applying their talents to the inevitable growing pains. Finally, I only mentioned the greatest impact this technology is going to have in passing, before. My company will be concentrating on developing a series of spacecraft, which we intend to mass market at the lowest cost possible. For now the solar system is wide open! The greatest land rush in history is upon us! There are eight other planets, over three hundred known moons, and literally millions of asteroids and comets. Suddenly, they are all wide open for exploration and eventually colonization!"

Al, Matt, and Katie stared and him incomprehensively. Quirking his lips and shaking his head, Troy pressed on.

"You don't get it do you? With this, we can make really big, capable, safe vehicles that can take hundreds or even thousands of tons of cargo to Low Earth Orbit, for pennies a pound!"

Seeing their continued looks of confusion, Troy stopped and considered for a moment how best to make his point, then he looked at Al.

"Ok, how about this. Right now how much gas do you burn getting here from your house, Al?"

Surprised by the question, Al considered for a moment, "About three gallons, its only twelve miles, but the engine has to run for two hours."

Troy frowned with one eye, obviously working through the numbers in his head.

"It's like this, for the same cost as you currently pay to get from your home to your office every day, within a year, or two at the outside, you should be able to visit the International Space Station."

Stunned silence spread over the crowd as the implications sank in.

Remorselessly, pressing the point home, Troy went on, "And for the same amount you currently pay for cross-country airfare, you will soon be able to travel to the moon!

"But ya'll stay off the moons of Mars! I've claimed them for my own since I was twelve."

As the announcers and the crowd laughed, at what they obviously saw as a joke, Troy smiled a secret smile of satisfaction.

"Well, if you are through shocking the world, it's time for us to do the news and the weather," said Matt.

Bowing graciously, Troy stepped out of camera and into history.

Edited By TeNderLoin

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Slow / Caution / Violent / Military /