Wednesday, February 21, 2018


"All you did was take one of our publicly available courtesy craft and smash it into a triangle shape for some inexplicable reason."

Grik, The representative from the Zeta manufacturing corporation was getting pissed.

"You actually managed to somehow weaken every positive attribute with one shape. But as usual it was that dumb genius you are famous for. When it flew straight we figured out that was because the mass was still balanced even if the shape wasn't a circle anymore. So we started making squares. Because squares are smart. More storage. But still, we'd have never found it if not for your idiocy." He was done. Just done talking at that point. He was going to give in. He just didn't care anymore. Fuck the humans. Fuck Tate Cameron.

"So that's the reason your stupid triangle copies of our craft do not work and tumble all over the place and look silly. Have you no shame? Why do you still fly them? Do you understand that everyone else is laughing at you? Why build more? Why not just look at our catalog. We have fine ships to pick from." Ok this time. This time he was done talking.

Tate started again. "And I'm going to explain this one more time. They had a dream or some such bullshit. I don't care what the damn thing looks like. They want a triangle. So none of what you say, no matter how true, matters. It has to be a triangle. Because some whack-a-doodle friend of MY PRESIDENT that could HAVE ME KILLED wants it to be a triangle. "

Grik interrupted him

"He could have me kill you."

General Tate Cameron froze in place. Was that a threat? This wasn't supposed to be happening. This was big serious pow wow time. What the fuck? Completely derailed, his brain kept processing it. Was he serious? That better have been a joke.

"Look, this isn't official. We could just make round ones and smash them into triangles ourselves." said Tate, completely serious.

Grik busted up laughing "YOU WOULD! I do have to say though... your human gift for aesthetics is also there. That's a stunningly beautiful craft." said Grik. "Can I ask who designed it?"

The ship was a beautiful hovering weapon-looking triangle. Like something a titan ninja would throw into another one. It was painted a gradient that ran from a perfect deep chartreuse to a high polish silver somehow in both color and luminosity, top to bottom.

"The shiny bottom is so they get to see what they think of as a shape changing UFO. I'm just reflecting the Earth. The top is just a favorite. It get cooler."

"Oh and um, I'm the designer. Hey General, why not take a break. Get some of that amazing coffee they have in mess."

A tall skinny guy in his 20's stood there arm extended. "I'm Frank."

"Who... look... who are you? Why do I hate you already?" Grik could not explain the rising anger. But then the guy smiled and it all clicked.

"Before you say another word." Frank pointed a thumb back over his left shoulder. Clearly visible in the massive hangar was the long term research and habitation craft stolen by one 9 year old Edward Franklin Drake. Grik's space RV.

"I've already talked with Prime. You don't have to do anything. If you check now your title and properties have been restored after all these years. I'm so very sorry. They have arranged to come pick up the ship. I made absolutely sure it's in perfect spec."

Grik was baffled for only the second time in his entire life. He silently pulled out his Ven. Something you could think of as a smartphone that's also a weapon. Frank imagined Tate unloading his service pistol into Grik. Not a great idea designing a communication device that looks like a gun. VERY terrifying for Americans. Because they never knew. There are two documented incidents of US Presidents drawing guns on Zetans just answering a call. He immediately saw the change in his crest. He was now a full officer again. His full prestige restored.

"I really want to be angry with you but I am just so relieved instead." said Grik.

"You really did well for yourself. You are here negotiating the very first business deal this planet has ever made with another one. It will be historic. You will be famous. You will have an amazing story to tell. You could write a bestseller now. It really worked out great for you. Let's cap that off with a big sell." Frank was in full sell mode. 

"I mean, you get what, 3 percent of that as commission right? Won't that make you unbelievably wealthy?" Grik considered this...

"Now, how about a design credit on the best looking spacecraft that will ever fly out of your factory?" offered Frank.

"What do you mean?" asked Grik.

"There are simple things I can not get working. I want to do something awesome to fix two problems at the same time."

"Go on" said Grik. This kid. This Ed/Frank. Here he was doing it again 13 years later. Captivating him. After the kid had stolen his ride, provided by the good folks at Prime for a long term science op, he didn't just get demoted. He didn't just have to pay back the full cost of the ship. He was publicly disgraced and forced into his private sector. Now he worked interplanetary business since it was an easy field to cross into. He had done well. And he also discovered he had a flair for it. He might have missed his calling.

"I need a way to force this project to stay classified forever. A very easy way to make that permanent is having you as co-designer." said Frank.

"But I have designed nothing" said Grik.

"But you technically will. I'll explain. See, we do not have the technology to perfectly gradient metal content density on a triangle shaped metal structure so it perfectly mimics a circular one. It has to be absolutely perfect. We experimented with a gradient honeycomb but kept failing." said Frank.

"That could work, but if you could do that to tolerance, you'd do something smarter. What is the point to forcing the triangle shape? Even if we make that for you, and we can do it, it will still be slower, less efficient, and have half the storage and lift capacity." Grik was getting very tired of pointing this out.

"It's what you aren't seeing because you aren't thinking that way. What I did was approach the design looking for things it does better." said Frank and smiled.

"Look Ed, there isn't a sing"

"It's Frank now." said Frank

"Yeah whatever, there isn't anything of any value to that shape. I can't think of a single" but then it clicked. A reason. "Oh my, you are trying to negate the bearing." Suddenly it all made sense.

The key design feature of the Zeta craft was that the entire cockpit was the center of a huge bearing. The outside skin of the craft designed to spin around the central control room. This relieved the intense magnetic forces generated by the engines. It also unfortunately generated a lot of visible light.

"The irregular shape itself will cause a flat venting that doesn't require spin, so doesn't generate heat, so doesn't luminesce. Also, no more need for a fucking bearing. So no more need for ships to be very tall that look like ugly hats."

"That is very smart. Still, is it worth the speed and agility tradoff?" asked Grik.

"You'll get some of that back just losing the bearing cockpit. Figure you lose about 12.5 percent of your velocity and agility rather than 25." said Frank.

"I'm imagining a massive triangle that's only 12 feet thick at its thickest point. How glorious would that be?" asked Grik. Frank nodded.

"Added bonus. Come with me." Grik followed Frank down the metal staircase from the internal office to the beautiful triangular shaped craft below.

"This is my baby. She stays stable in flight for about 97 minutes now. You wouldn't even know it's not perfect. Then it will suddenly twist so hard when it loses sync that you risk structural failure."

Grik nodded grimly. He understood perfectly how dangerous it would be to fly.

"I overcame that by making an overlapping engine system. They seamlessly swap in and out every five minutes. That resets the critical failure timer. The technology itself might extend the usable life for an existing hull by 50 percent, while providing needed fault tolerance."

"That's amazing." said Grik. 

"But wait, there's more... Remember how one of the aspects of this shape was that it refused to reflect any light at all? So our early versions were just black. Which was great at night, but terrible during the day." Grik nodded.

"So I put a simple light filter in front of the emitter. I mean, they aren't using the light so it shouldn't matter right?" asked Frank.

"Yeah, that makes sense."

"Watch what happens when I put up a red filter. Look over there. I just have a little carousel with filters I rigged up in front of the emitter." said Frank as he pointed at the middle of the bottom of the craft. Grik looked over and saw the contraption. He heard the click sound as the filter slid into place over the emitter.

"Now watch what happens when I turn it on."

Frank powered up the magnetrons. Almost immediately Grik saw the effect. The entire skin of the craft was now glowing blue, but in a perfect Sierpinski triangle pattern. It was reflecting the ceiling over and over again. Billions of tiny triangles.

"Now watch what happens when I filter everything." said Frank and pushed the button again. Suddenly the blue was gone. All bands of light were being reflected in the fractal pattern. Weirdly the pattern blended into the surroundings, but looked fake inside the hanger.

"Know what this is great for? Sitting in clouds." said Frank. "The effect is almost seamless."

Grik was stunned. "We are going to make a lot of money."