by Bill Kowaleski
Creative Destruction is a sequel to the novel Brighter Than the Stars, in which Earthlings meet technologically advanced space aliens. The Cygnians come only to do business, but their schemes to sell fusion-powered generators become contentious and competitive.
Many human and alien characters return from the previous novel, including Jim McDermott and his team, who try to reduce the risk of societal upheaval that the new technologies threaten. Meanwhile, many different groups are either plotting to steal the technical advances for their own purposes or trying to destroy it and drive the Cygnians off of Earth.
|Cast of Characters and Species||Table of Contents|
Chapter 10: The Salesman Gets a Partner
Salesman-Drake emerged into a field golden with the late-day sun. Grassland dotted with clumps of trees rolled in all directions toward a sumptuous pale blue horizon. His new, improved bodysuit’s optical system caught the movement of a large herd of animals in the distance, and he felt a twinge of longing. He ached to run out there and join them for a while, even though he saw no enclosures to keep out predators. The grasses looked tasty, and frolicking with a herd would be so gratifying, intelligent animals or not. Even with his nano-filters fully operating, he could smell the fresh, rural scents of an open plain, so much like his own planet. He liked this place, it felt a lot like home.
In front of him he saw the large mine that he had targeted. For over a mile, the hundred-meter tall grassy ridge that ran from horizon to horizon was interrupted by a huge, perpendicular gash, dripping naked, blood-red soil and rock like a festering wound. At the bottom of the gash, giant mining equipment moved slowly while dust rose in a thick, dull-red cloud, almost obscuring the operation. Here were produced the minerals he hoped to transport to Cygnus Prime. He carefully locked his coordinates into his miniature personal altverse tunnel generator and walked toward the mine’s main gate.
No one seemed to care or notice when he walked onto the grounds: a testament, he thought, to the realistic skin color and facial features that the scientists had built into his bodysuit. He made note of the house-trailer sized generator near the site entrance, loudly roaring and belching smoke, a rail-car sized fuel tank beside it. He strode confidently toward a large, corrugated aluminum shed, assuming that that would be where the managers were. He opened the door, shocked by a blast of cold air from a laboring air conditioning unit in the wall across from him.
“Can I help you?” asked a young woman sitting at a desk immediately opposite the entry door.
“Yes, could I see the manager, please?”
She pointed to a burly man, facing away, wearing a white shirt and black pants, holding a clipboard, in an animated conversation with two other men. She waited politely until the manager turned. “Mr. Mudenda, this man wishes to see you.”
The burly man regarded the Salesman, revealing a face glistening with sweat despite the air conditioning, wearing black-rimmed glasses, tightly-curled, graying hair. “Yes, what can I do for you, sir?”
“I am Oliver Ongori. I sell products that I think you may find quite interesting and unusual.” The Salesman had chosen the name from a website that listed professors at a university in the capital city.
“Oh, another salesman. I’m sorry. No time for that now.”
“But, Mr. Mudenda, what if I were able to dramatically reduce your fuel costs? Would that interest you?”
The manager stopped in mid-turn. “My fuel costs are enormous and rising rapidly. You have one minute to tell me how you can reduce them ‘dramatically’, as you say.”
“I have products that use the principle of nuclear fusion to create energy from nothing other than a little water. They operate continuously without the need for maintenance and will cost you almost nothing. All I ask is the opportunity to install a test unit to show you that I speak the truth.”
Mr Mudenda’s eyes widened. “We may be in deep backcountry here, Mr. Ongori, but we are educated people. Nuclear fusion? That is nonsense. It cannot be done at this scale.”
“But I only ask that you allow me to provide you with a simple demonstration. If it works, you can simply convert your equipment to electric power and run all of it off of the reactors I can provide.”
He stared intently at the Salesman, who stood calmly, acting as if he were ever so slightly annoyed that someone could possibly doubt him. “Very well, what do you need for your demonstration?”
“I see you produce electrical power here with that large generator out front. Allow me to substitute my reactor. You will burn no fuel at all during the test. You will see that I speak the truth.”
“Very well, when can you have it here?”
“In a few minutes.”
“Now, Mr. Ongori, you really are being ridiculous. There are no paved roads for over two hundred kilometers. The nearest airport that could handle a large item like that is two days’ drive away. Please do not toy with me.”
“Just trust me for fifteen minutes, Mr. Mudenda, please. If you do, then you will find that this is the day that your life will change forever.”
Mr. Mudenda granted the Salesman the fifteen minutes. The Cygnian asked everyone to stay inside the trailer and walked outside to the generator. He activated his personal altverse tunnel and transmitted a simple message asking for a Type Two test unit. Within minutes it appeared, sliding smoothly onto the red clay next to the laboring generator.
The Salesman walked back to the trailer and asked that the power connections be moved to his device. Within minutes the first GFG generator on the African continent was creating ample power for the mine.
Mr. Mudenda stared in astonishment at the blinding light emanating from the small window in the center of the unit. “What is going on in there, sir? It is clearly working, but how? There is only a little bit of water feeding into it.”
“I told you, Mr. Mudenda, it is nuclear fusion. It will continue to function without interruption indefinitely, as long as you maintain the water feed from your well.”
“I do want to be sure it works, to test it for a few days, but please, tell me, what does it cost? I am almost sure we will want it if the price is reasonable.”
“Sir, my company seeks more than a single sale; we would like to use your organization to resell these units. If you would agree to be our African agent for these, we would be more than happy to sell them to you for just a few tons of ore from this facility. I think at the current ore price, you would be purchasing the units for approximately three thousand dollars U.S. each. But of course, you must commit to a minimum number of units.”
Mr. Mudenda gasped. “You must be mistaken! The generator you replaced cost us over thirty times that amount. And that doesn’t include the enormous amounts of fuel it gulps.”
“No, sir, I am not mistaken. My company is very interested in your ores. We would prefer a direct trade, no money changing hands, just ore for product.”
Mr. Mudenda considered the possibilities. He could fudge the production figures, take the units, give this madman his ore, and sell the old generator, pocketing the proceeds. His brother in Gaborone could become the sales agent that Mr. Ongori sought. They could easily sell the fusion generators for perhaps fifty thousand U.S. dollars each, almost all of it profit, but still much less than comparable diesel generators. The demand could be limitless. It sounded too good to be true. There had to be a catch.
“Mr. Ongori, your offer sounds most interesting. How many units did you want us to commit to?”
“At such an attractive price, we’d like you to commit to five thousand.”
“Five thousand! My, that is a large operation, sir. Perhaps we should start smaller, say one thousand. What would your price be then?”
“It would be double my previous offer in that case.” The Salesman was secretly delighted -- his quota was much less than one thousand units and, at the ore-equivalent price he had quoted, the profit margin would be two hundred percent.
“Well, that is definitely possible. I will need to arrange some things, perhaps you could return in a week.”
“Yes, uh, that would be fine.” The Salesman made a mental note: find out how much time a week would be. “Please, one important thing, do not touch the generator. This is most important! I must emphasize that. Stay at least two meters away, or it may activate its self-defense systems.”
“We will put a barbed wire fence around it at once, Mr. Ongori.”
“Excellent idea! I will return home, then, Mr. Mudenda. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to me. I hope this is the beginning of a most mutually advantageous relationship.“
“Mr. Ongori, sir, I do believe that it is! See you in a week!”
The Salesman departed the mine site, walking as confidently as his body suit allowed, until he had situated himself behind a large stand of trees where he activated his personal altverse tunnel.
Inside the shed, Mr. Mudenda gazed out the window, watching him closely, noting his sudden disappearance. He turned to the men he had been talking to earlier. “It is related to that reactor complex in the United States, I am sure of it. Perhaps that gentleman is one of the aliens. But no matter, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. I would be a fool not to cash in on it!”
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski