Atlantic Bridge – 5 –(Prologue) (Atlantic Bridge 4)
Mooney and Dwyer were staring intently at the test chamber mounted on the lab bench. The Polyflex Dwyer had brought along had been treated with Buildcorp’s patented lacquer, and placed inside. Now Mooney pressed a button and seawater flooded the chamber. A system of hydraulics exerted pressure on the material.
“It’s holding, Cal, “exclaimed Dwyer, excitedly. “Bombard it with the Pulse!”
Cal Mooney brought the pulse emitter, trained on the test chamber up to full power; a barely audible subsonic thrummm filled the room. Two things happened, very quickly. Firstly, the lacquer shattered into a myriad of shards, and then, as the “flexed” substance came into contact with the saltwater, the molecules flew apart and the sample that Dwyer had brought along with such hope simply ceased to exist.
Plaza 24, Marius Cassel’s quarters: 6am GMT, Oct 4th,2062
There was an alarm ringing in Marius’ head. Loud. Insistent. He awoke with a start, momentarily confused by his surroundings. Then he remembered. The Platform. He imagined all too clearly himself perched on a submerged ridge in a man made construction defying nature and all reason. Why did he have to be so “hands-on” with his projects? He wondered, not for the first time. The alarm from his dream appeared to be continuing. Phone. Bleary eyed, he grabbed the receiver.
“Marius? It’s Cal Mooney, I apologise for the early hour buddy, but you need to know, the test failed. Bert was outta here with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp, let me tell ya.”
“Ah Christ, Cal,” Marius said between yawns.
“Yeah, right. But I got to thinking, maybe it’s about time the Brits started earning their spurs, know what I mean? I’ve deltamailed all the relevant information on the test to Daniel and Sir Robert.”
This was a little rich, thought Marius, especially when you considered the two British Engineers had come up with the revolutionary road surface for the Polyflex bridge spans, ending concerns about rain and seawater creating hazardous driving conditions, but he kept his own counsel, knowing how much the bluff American liked to grandstand.
Mooney continued: “I’ve given them a week to work on the problem, then we’re all convening at Buildcorp to run new tests. We’ll appraise you as soon as we have any news, good or bad, where you gonna be buddy?”
“I’ll be back in the UK, I imagine Cal. Listen, good luck, okay?” said Marius.
“Thanks Marius, we’re gonna need a shitload of that alright.” And he was gone.
Marius sat holding the dead receiver. “Damn.” He said softly, replacing it in its cradle, and spent the next two hours unsuccessfully trying to get back to sleep.
Around 9am, Marius Cassel plodded into the canteen and began ploughing through his Full Benefit. Sluicing it down with copious mugs of coffee, he began to consider the implications of the first test failure. His biggest concern was the US and UK governments getting to hear about it. If they got cold feet and pulled the plug….He couldn’t blame them, he decided. If his team couldn’t come up with a workable span, The Unity Project, his dream of an Atlantic Bridge, would end up as nothing more than a row of glorified, highly expensive car parks marooned across the ocean, with about as much hope of seeing a car as Las Vegas gamblers had of seeing their money back.
He tried to focus on the positive. He had absolutely the best men in the world on this. The best. As he headed for Annie’s office, he felt sure that they would think of something.
Three days later
It had been a busy seventy-two hours. Marius and Annie were taking a well-earned break in the crew bar, mulling over where they stood with the project with specific focus on Plaza 24.
“Annie, I think we can go ahead with the excavation at 750 feet. All the data points to a stable environment to drill,” Said Marius.
“Great! I’ll requisition additional teams from the U.S. to begin drilling next week. We’ll have some terminus here on 24, Marius, Car parking, refuelling, shops and restaurants, a fantastic way-station,” Enthused Annie.
“Mm.. let’s just hope it doesn’t end up as a mere curiosity for the Cruise Liners to visit,” Said Marius, glumly.
“Look what three days of breakfast cholesterol has done to you,” teased Annie. “You’re miserable as sin! I’m certain your team will solve this, I know they will.” She added encouragingly.
“Yeah” he sighed. “Let’s hope so. Look, “he added, “I may need some Oceanographic input at other locations in the chain. I think we work well together, and, I trust you. Would you object if I occasionally
requested your secondment to work with me?”
“Why Mr. Cassel!” she replied, fluttering her eyelashes theatrically,
“You know my address, it’s, Big lump of Rock, Middle of Atlantic Ocean.”
Marius laughed, despite his melancholic mood. “Annie, seriously, it’s been great working closely with you, I feel I can trust you, and I certainly need your knowledge and input. So expect the call.”
“Thanks Marius, I’ll look forward to it. What time’s Archangel rendezvousing? ” she asked.
“In around two hours. Then it’s a six hour sail to the Carrier Battle Group, where I’ll transfer to the U.S.S. Guiliani and then hitch a ride on a Heli-Jet for London. Who said modern travel wasn’t fun?”
“Okay” she said, downing the last of her coffee, I’ll meet you down in the transfer bay then.” She jumped up and disappeared in the direction of her deep sea laboratory.
Marius watched her go, and decided he’d be requesting her assistance pretty soon. He felt that in Annie, he’d found a friend.
Nineteen hours later, Marius was dozing in the V.I.P. Lounge at Stratford International Heliport. The North-East London Air passenger terminal was a bonus squeezed out of the city as a by-product of the successful bid for the 2012 Olympics, although the games were a distant memory well before the Heliport saw its first passengers. A female member of staff approached him with a portable phone. “Mr. Cassel?” she enquired.
“That’s me.” He answered.
“For you” she replied, offering him the handset.
“Is that you, Marius? It’s Sir Robert here. Look, here’s the thing old chap, wanted to update you PDQ, don’t you know. Daniel and I just got back from locking horns with those damnable yanks and do you know what, I think we’ve cracked it!”
Marius’ jetlag was gone in an instant. He sat up, ramrod straight. ”You’ve solved the problem? Tremendous! How….”
“Line’s not secure old chap,” Universal Civil Engineers Chief Executive cut in. “When are you at your London office?”
“Tomorrow, not today,” replied Marius, feeling weary again. “Whatever today is. I’ll tell you what, call me at my Canterbury home at seven this evening, I have an encoding facility, and a secure line, we can talk then. Oh, and Sir Robert?” added Marius.
“Yes, Marius old man?”
“Bon Travail!” Returning the handset to the waiting VIP assistant, Cassel headed for the Deal Overhead, one of the new transport initiatives that took Mag-Lev trains out in eight spidery tendrils around London. Marius could reach Canterbury in around fifteen minutes. His spirits were high now, despite his exhaustion. His mind pondered on the possible solution…how could they have solved the problem of the Polyflex breaking the confines of the lacquer coating? Despite himself, he started thinking..
Daniel Rawlings had majored in Sub Particle Physics before inheriting his father’s business, he guessed the key lay somewhere in Daniel’s background. Lost in thought, Marius very nearly missed his stop, as the Mag-Lev slid silently to a halt. “Canterbury. This is Canterbury” intoned the female voice of the onboard computer.
© Kev Moore 2008 All Rights Reserved