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New Dawn in the Suns (Chapter Cover)

New Dawn in the Sun's - Chapter 17[]

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Heated Discussions over an old Problem[]

Sanromea DropShip Yard
Brockton, Federated Suns
January 3rd, 3017

Andrew wasn't quite sure just what this latest meeting was about. Despite the profitability of the DropShip yards, and the critical importance of the JumpShip refit slips, he had little to do with the aerospace industry. Yes, he owned it, but that was through managers. He preferred to leave decisions in their hands as he was well aware that he was a rank amateur when it came to making business decisions around the industry. The last time anyone from his family had invested more than money had been several generations ago when they had steered an asteroid mining subsidy through parliament, and that had been at the request of the planetary ecology party as part of a raft of environmental regulations. This is why it came as such a surprise that his managers were requesting a meeting about the yards.

"Well you have me here," Andrew looked around the room they were meeting in and was surprised by its spartan appearance. He had gotten used to the sumptuously appointed meeting rooms that his other industrial concerns had or the palatial ones he had used on Basantapur, this was a rather different approach and he wasn't sure what it said about the business. Perhaps he needed to allot more funding here? "What do you need?"

"Reassurances," Josephine Needlemyer spoke up after she had shared a look with her fellow executives. Andrew only recalled her name due to the briefing he had gotten from his staff on the way over, another oversight he would need to correct. "You're looking to expand production of the GE 3000 drive system with an eye towards duplicating the lines. That's not a small move, and you've been consistent in where your priorities lay. We've been sucking hind teat for a long time, so your interest is getting us rather nervous. We wanted to make sure you weren't convinced by offworlders of some damn fool notion like trying to propel a warship by strapping DropShip drives to the frame in bundles."

"Is that even possible?" Andrew asked, a bit taken aback.

"No it's not, but I wouldn't put it past the fools in charge of Challenge systems to sell you on the notion in the name of recovery." Vernon Strand spoke up. "Before Jalastar bought them out with your money they were floating some pretty out-there ideas…"

"So they have exactly the right sort of bait you would go for." Josephine took up the thread of the conversation again. "If they're pressing you for engines I'll bet you pounds to pence that they say they have the data needed to put together a core forge, if only they had the right heavy equipment."

"If they had that I would have known," Andrew said sharply. He was slightly offended by the presumption that he would be taken for a ride by some sharp-talking businessmen. He did own an aerospace company, after all, he would be a fool to not have asked the people in the room their opinion on any investments he made in the area. Then again… no one had asked about their idea for Andurien so the accusation wasn't that unwarranted.

"Not saying you wouldn't, but from our perspective? You haven't exactly been a paragon of dynamism in our sector like you have been for the mech industry." Josephine's voice contained more than a bit of approval. "You did give away our shot at making fighters after all…"

"That was after I consulted the board at the time and they told me we had no chance of reviving the line on our own. We didn't have the engineers or the engine line to put a bird into the air unless you disagree?"

"Not really," Josaphine shrugged off his retort with little worry. "Our r and d is one area of concern we want to bring up with you, as in its more a couple of chair warmers then anyone with real engineering experience and the budget is barely enough for their salaries. Still begs the question, what do you want to do with the engines you've ordered?"

"Diplomacy..." Andrew contained his wince at the three unimpressed looks he was getting as he said that. "Look the Excalibur class is nearly out of production; you have all heard about that? The GE 48000 drive system isn't being made anymore so you can't get it for love or money. Harry picked up on a rumor that the Dracs are using the GE 2080 drive for the Mule, and then started to wonder if we could get some concessions out of the Anduriens if we rescued their line."

"Jumbos closer in tonnage than a Mule is… might work but you would need to do some tricky engineering to get everything right." Jin Slone spoke up for the first time. She was the firm's senior engineer so if anyone would know it would be her. "I really hope he's asking for an engineer exchange, or at least the right to hire some of Andurien Industries' engineers. We could use some new blood around here, our people are a bit too comfortable just doing rote refits on known designs."

I'll be sure to include that in my next message to him," Andrew frowned a bit as he heard the concern. "Would bringing in some new designs help any?"

"Unfortunately, not, most of our best end up working in the mining sector," Josephine admitted with a grimace. "The lack of challenge and opportunity means we don't get the best at the moment. If you do manage to get production rights to anything we're going to need at least a decade before our engineering department is really up to snuff again. We've lost a lot of institutional knowledge over the years and there hasn't been the funds or will to rebuild it."

"I'm a little taken aback by that," Andrew admitted allowing confusion to show on his face. "Part of the reason why the family hasn't taken an interest in our aerospace holdings is that you, and your predecessors, haven't given us a reason to be interested. We've had steady returns and solid books for more than a century, rocking the boat seemed like a bad idea."

"Normally it is, and if you want us to keep on trucking there won't be any problems." Jin's soft voice was clear despite its lack of volume. "Our people know their designs and can do a lot with them… the problem is that while we turn a consistent profit there hasn't been much growth for a long time, and all of us would like to see that change. Harry taking an interest in transport, well, that gets our hopes up."

"Is there room for growth? I was under the impression that we were limited by technical issues," Andrew tried to think of an opportunity and came up blank. They made mostly civilian ships, with a single heavily outdated military design. Actually, all of their offerings were to the minds of most nobles outdated.

"Possibly…" Josephine said cautiously.

"Oh, give it to him straight you, old hag." Vernon barked out, clearly not in the mood to dance around the subject. "No ones making the Achilles in the Suns anymore, so there is room for an Assault DropShip. We could fill that need with a modified DroST."

DroST Class DropShip (above planet - by Stefan Huba)

DroST Class Transport DropShip

"Only after we trained up a proper engineering team and went through r and d with a flamethrower." Jin barked back, a sharp contrast to her earlier soft voice. "The engineering challenges won't be any easier just because we're working with a frame we're familiar with. Just running the power lines and ammo feeds would be a major job, getting it right would take planning that I don't have faith in the chair warmers to do right."

"Lets…" Josephine started to speak only to be overridden by Vernon who was up off his chair and looming over the smaller form of Jin.

"Only because we don't have the balls to make the attempt! The ideas have been out there for years but no ones pushed them. Yes, it will be a challenge, but it's not impossible! We aren't trying to make a new design, just adapt one we know well."

"We might as well be you, ignorant buffoon, in order to do the job we would have to strip the design down to its frame and engines, working up everything new out from there. That isn't a rebuild, it's practically a whole new design."

"PEOPLE!" Andrew raised his voice, cutting off the obviously long-running argument. "Thank you, might I remind you that you all work for me?"

"I've got a month before I retire." Vernon seemed to have kept his combative edge but he settled down a bit.

"I do look forward to that day if this is the way you act in a business meeting." Andrew warned flatly. "I'm not opposed to putting some money into this idea you have, but I want a solid plan before I even think about it. You've told me that no one in the Suns makes the Achilles, fair enough, so what has the Navy used to replace them? Is that satisfactory or is it just a stopgap? I need to know that before I can even begin to make a decision."

"We have contacts in the navy we can reach out to." Josephine seemed to realize that Andrew's temper was on edge after that display. "It will take longer then you're used to for us to find answers though. The navy works a little differently than you're used to, and getting a hold of people in the Department of Naval defense captains are mobile in a way that regiments aren't."

"Alright, get me some answers." Andrew turned to Jin and Vernon, favoring them with a frown. "The two of you? I want at least the beginnings of a paper study for this new assault ship. R & D aren't capable of that? Start firing people and don't hire chair warmers this time. Work together, or separately, I really don't care. Just get me something that indicates this is a viable option, even if it's for the future."

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