Research and Development

Royal Magnetics of Ibiza, Research Annex
Planet Ibiza
Kalmazoo system

It had been eleven months since Herr Baumer had arrived at Royal Magnetics with a purchase order and a royal production licence. True to his word, the purchase order had arrived before the end of the day. And Baumer had proved that this wasn’t the first procurement contract either. Included was a wire draft to easily cover the down payment, a full set of customs clearance documents, and account information for a Blue Star Shipping factor in the capital. Durante had wished all his contracts were so straightforward.

By the time the first shipment of two Cabreras were leaving, the balance of the funds had arrived.

Durante wasted little time with those funds, half being plowed into the production run that the contract required, and the other half into jump-starting a research department that had been pared back to the nub over the past years. Test facilities were reopened, former researchers were hired back on, and replacements were found for those who could not, or would not return. But there was more that could be done than just bring Royal Magnetics to where it was. It needed to go higher.

The contract with the deWulf Navy was indeed fortunate, as it proved to open several doors in the Corporate State. A Navy contract was an explicit sign of trust, and a vote of stability both on the financial and public relation ledgers. And the doors that it opened were rich ones indeed. Letters had gone out to several deWulf corporations; general inquiries that promised much but required a step into the unknown.

Subach-Witzig sent the best response. They had anticipated that Royal Magnetics was looking for more than just a trade partner. Instead of a simple form letter asking for details, their response was two containers of research data, prototypes, and a single senior engineer. Subach-Witzig had spent several years trying to crack the basic secrets that underpinned Ibizan railgun technology, but had failed to make much headway, certainly not enough to have a combat-ready weapon available. But the data held several ideas that Royal Magnetics had never even considered, nevermind pursued. And the engineer had a hunger for knowledge.

It had taken a week for his cargo to be unloaded into a corner of the main engineering hall. She eschewed an office or a research lab in the tower, instead choosing to work on the testing floor directly. She hounded the engineers and technicians with questions both simple and esoteric, and by the end of the week there was little that she couldn’t answer herself. The end of the workday found her in the bar down the line from the complex, and by closing she’d drunk two of the factory supervisors into a coma without a hint of restraint. The cleaning crew found her sleeping at her desk the next morning, but instinctively knew better than to wake her. Researchers were their own curious breed.

Cordoning off a corner of the floor, she had set to work, pulling a random collection of abandoned prototype hardware from the Subach-Witzig containers, bolting them all to a half-assembled charge array she had pulled up from the factory floor overnight. The engineers who had asked what she was planning were shooed away, and they had soon left her alone. Durante admitted to himself he was worried, thinking that perhaps she had a breakdown, that the pressure had gotten to her.

The madness had continued on for a good week, until the rest of the working group from Subach-Witzig had arrived. At the tail of the introductory meeting she dragged the assembled staff over to her project. The researchers and engineers from Subach-Witzig took it all in stride; not the first time she’d done this, apparently. Curiosity became skepticism and in turn became abject wonder as she presented an upgraded charge array that not only was more efficient, but could allow kinetic rounds to hold a static drive field for a few seconds longer. Enough to extend the range… and be fitted to a heavier round. As prototypes go it was bulky, temperamental, and at best only semi-functional.

Durante had personally signed her bonus cheque, and reminded her that if she was looking, there was a place her for her.

He saw her application the next morning. And had an irate message from Subach-Witzig’s head of R&D by the end of the week.

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