13: The Rise
The bean counters from Department 9 were there, up front. Not because they wanted to be but because they were told this would save money. The maintenance crews were off to one side, in the shadows, grumbling amongst themselves because this was just another ‘thing’ they had to worry about. Naturally middle management were there, propping upper management, patting one another on the back and telling each other up the chain what a bloody brilliant idea it was. And the drivers were there, in the opposite shadows to the maintenance crews, with both a look of aloofness and concern, but not saying a lot.
In the centre of the cavernous workshop, the focus of all attention. Sitting squat like some sort of metallic Buddha, it hummed as if in meditation, smelling of oil and grease. It was by all accounts a monster, a frankenmaschine borne of an unhealthy mix of need, desperation, and hidden greed. It was hard to know what to make of it and the looks of confusion mixed with disbelief were spread equally around the room. The technology was old, its origins back to when people still thought killing one another was the best way to make a point. Things like this were last seen at The Bypass, that last gasp in the futile ‘Wars of Vanity’ which ended up being , finally, the war to end all wars; ironically only because the body count was next to zero – humanity’s greatest stalemate finally drove home the stupidity of war.
Some mumbled that there was not much difference between war and mining. Others thought the whole thing was too perverse for words. But stood before them all, in an unholy union, the technologies of greed and death had been mated in the name of the companies.
“We would like to present the Platform” the beaming upper management stooge announced, clearly impressed with himself. “This is the first inter-company venture undertaken on Scamander and we are all very proud of the result.”
Unperturbed he continued… “We have taken on board all the feedback we’ve been given over the past three years and came to a joint decision – that the current archive of equipment available was unsuitable for the operations at hand.”
The feedback had been gathered and collated. Compartmentalised, rationalised and distributed. Somewhere, someone had had the idea that resurrecting dinosaurs was the solution they had been looking for…
“We feel that the Platforms will afford all crews the performance, and safety levels, that have been lacking since we started operations 10 years ago.”
For ten years, it seemed impossibly more for the long termers, crews had been vanishing in the field. No explanation given, mostly because there was not one to give. Naturally, in the corporate offices it had been analysed and sanitised to the point that there was nothing amiss, other than faulty machinery. The flaws in the conclusions were so large one could drive the monstrosity they saw as the solution through them. To anyone with more than an inkling of remote intelligence, there was more at play. More than anyone wanted to admit to.
But it didn’t matter…
“Once the crews become acquainted with the Platforms, we all feel that no one will ever look back…”
The upper middle management stooge, to his credit, seemed genuine in his enthusiasm. So he should have been, his kickback was a good one, enough to justify the new suit he was wearing for the presentation. The new suit that made him look like the stooge he was.
After the official presentation, when the tiers of management were safely back in their offices, those that were going to have to wear the burden of these ‘new’ machines remained and mused. All of them knew, like everything else going on, this was not going to last; at some point, corporate was going to pull the rug from under them and the whole thing would fail.
The question was, how was that going to happen this time?
Looking for Gods in Maschines:
Spans of the known:
A collection of hard science fiction tales written and illustrated by Gerard Thomas.