"A Cyber-Iapetus?" asked Dr. John Maland.
"A mechanical protector appears to be the ideal solution. It would work both for a temporary interval, and long term if necessary."
"For centuries, when a ship would come to our island we would examine it closely," explained the Iapetian storyteller. "Thus, we have gathered much technology over the years."
"You have been collecting technology?"
"Certainly! In addition, with all of our needs being met by our island and the mighty protector, we have managed to synthesize the collected technology and add some of our own to this project."
"So, why didn't you build this cyber-Iapetus yourselves?"
"We lack the natural resources; also, we do not have the large spaces required to construct such a thing. No, the only course we could take was to look outside our island."
"Did you have me in mind for this task the entire time?"
"When you came upon our island, we thought you might be able to help. However, that business you had up north did change the equation slightly. We had planned to build it ourselves by renting a space and purchasing the necessary equipment. That adventure of yours brought us an unexpected windfall, and we could afford to hire experienced workers to manufacture our mechanical protector."
"And you want *me* to supervise the construction?" inquired Dr. Maland.
"We only need you to give us a regular status report. You do not have to inspect the process regularly. I believe we can trust the CEO of AOENC business group, a Mr. L. Edward Roy. We ask that you just ask him periodically on the progress. Further, if they have questions, we ask you to be the go-between. You can bring the questions to us. Finally, perhaps once or twice a year, we would like you to check on the construction itself. We will pay the expenses of course."
"Twice a year?"
"We expect the construction to take several years. It is quite a complicated build. Some of the technology is very innovative, and may take months to test. The power system is entirely of our design, and has been patented. I am sure they will want to fully test it before implementing it."
"I guess it is the least I could do for you."
"Thank you sir," responded the storyteller giving Dr. Maland a card. "Here is L. Edward Roy's card. Please contact him and set up an appointment at your earliest convenience."
"I will," John replied as he took the card.
The storyteller arose from his chair and shook Dr. Maland's hand. He gave a slight bow and left the office with his briefcase.
John looked at the plans again, but they did not mean anything to him. However, he got an idea on what to do during spring break. He would visit the manufacture facility in Niceville, Florida.
It was still early afternoon, so John called the number on the card. He spoke to the receptionist. He told her who he was and what he wanted. She told him that she would leave a note for Mr. Roy and he would be in contact.
Later that day, Mr. Roy called him and it was arranged. John would arrive on the Monday of his spring break, and spend a week touring the facilities in Niceville. It was not going to be as exciting or interesting as some of his spring break adventures, but it was something to do. It would definitely be different.
He thought about how he would travel the 650 miles to Niceville. He could fly and rent a car, but with the nice weather they were having, he decided he would put the top down and drive the 10 hours. Driving up the coast was always nice, and there were plenty of places to stop and rest.
When his class dismissed on the Friday before spring break, he went home and packed. He planned on leaving early in the on Saturday and drive all day. That would give him Sunday to look around the area and unwind before he began touring the manufacturing plant.
The weather was beautiful and the drive up the coast was just as he remembered. However, he did feel like a salmon swimming upstream as the college kids jammed the southbound traffic as he headed north.
He drove into Jacksonville around noon, and he was already tired. He knew of a hole-in-the-wall pizza place he had always visited when in the area. He ordered a small classic veggie to go and made his way to memorial park. It was a small park on the St. Johns River. He stretched, walked, and ate pizza there.
When he washed down the last piece he was going to eat, he walked the path around the park. He sat and watched the things happening on and around the river for a while. He felt rejuvenated and returned to his car. He debated on whether he would eat another slice of pizza, but he decided against it.
He made his way to a gas station, filled his car, used the facilities, and got an iced tea for the road. He still had quite a way to travel as Jacksonville was about the halfway point. He hoped to make it to his hotel in Niceville before dark, but it looked as if that was not going to happen. He had loitered too long in Jacksonville.
This stretch of the trip had more stops and more frequent rests than the first leg of the journey. Nevertheless, he made it to his hotel by 9pm. He was regretting the fast food Chinese he found for dinner, but he had finally made it to his destination.
He put his cold pizza in the room's refrigerator and debated on looking around town. However, the long drive had taken too much out of him and he decided to stay in his room. He reclined on his bed and turned on the TV, but he was asleep by 9:45.
He awoke with a start around midnight, stripped off his clothes, and officially went to bed. Naturally, he was up very early the next day. Dr. Maland had the cold pizza for breakfast, and planned to spend a lazy Sunday exploring the area. He drove around and found the factory. It was an enormous building and it would easily accommodate the construction of the mechanical Iapetus.
There were several beaches and golf courses around town. He spent most of his time looking for a good place to go sailing. It just would not be a spring break if he did not go sailing at least once.
After the uneventful Sunday, John got up early on Monday. He put on his suit, and drove to the factory. He entered the reception area. He found the receptionist and said, "I have an appointment with L. Edward Roy."
"What?" asked the receptionist.
"My name is Dr. John Maland, and I have arranged to visit this facility."
"Oh! Welcome Dr. Maland we have been expecting you. Please, have a seat and Ms. Linda Higher will be with you in a moment."
"Mr. Roy will not be showing me around?"
"Oh no, Dr. Roy is a very busy person. He could never spare the time."
After a brief wait, Ms. Higher ushered Dr. Maland into a room, and offered him a seat. A slightly mechanical voice on the speakerphone said, "Welcome to our Niceville Florida plant Dr. Maland. I apologize for not being there in person, but I was detained in our Tokyo office. I will be in Amsterdam on Friday, and I just could not make it in person."
"Dr. Roy I assume?"
"Oh yes, where are my manners? I assume you have exchanged pleasantries with our very capable Ms. Higher."
"She will take very good care of you. I must be going now sir. Enjoy your stay, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask."
"Thank you Dr. Roy."Posted by deg at April 22, 2007 5:57 PM