"I believe you misunderstood what was said, my friend. The Geantsu is still undergoing testing for its combined systems, testing the backups and training the crew in how it really works compared to how it worked on paper." He smiled as he looked down the track for the next Monotrain, noticing as he did that he'd picked up a few more listeners.
"It's taking longer than they said it would. But that always happens. They're taking their time and getting it right. If this were to fail, governments would fall since this has taken so much work. So many peoples' futures are riding on this. Not just those on board but those whose retirements were taken and put into this. If it doesn't pay off then there won't be anything left to take care of people with. All the promises they made won't be kept. Everything's riding on this."
"Sir, I must speak," she said, rising. "I do believe progress is important. Without progress we would not have computers or instant coffee. But why must we travel to the outer reaches of the galaxy for merely the sake of progress? Many lives could be lost, and millions of dollars wasted. And why in a shoe? While the shoe is giant, it does not offer ultimate protection from any asteroids we might meet. How long are is it going to take to get to the outer rim, sir? We have no cause but insatiable curiousity, a priceless thing indeed, but honestly, what can compensate the inevitable loss of an innocent human being?"
"It is imperative that we must meet the invitation of the civilisation that invited us. They have the power to crush us, but what's more important, they have the power to help us in ways we never could achieve on our own1. Our visitors made that much clear when they paid us an improbable visit in their starship "Heart of Gold" that was one hundred and fifty metres long, shaped like a sleek running shoe, perfectly white and
mindboggingly beautiful — we simply copied its blueprints. Also, let's go places, baby! Woohoo!"
1Just one example: they've demonstrated that they have the technology to make instant water, to go with our instant coffee.
"Question, sir!" He turned around to the young man that had spoken those words. "Yes?" he replied. "How exactly does the propulsion system work? There are no visible parts that would enable it to fly, let alone get out to outer space." The man in the sleek suit giving the tour was a bit uncertain for a moment, but quickly recovered: "Now, I'm sure you would all like to know the details of it's functions, but I fear that might be a bit too technical. Why don't we go and take a look inside? Follow me please!" He let out a little sigh. He was glad he had been able to avoid disaster. If any of these people knew what was actually going on here, he'd be hanged. Or worse, he'd lose his job.
The small group of people stepped off the Monotrain and followed him through the corridors. He had absolutely no idea why his boss approved the students visit. He had just been called to his office where he was told he had to prepare a guide for some kids and make sure they didn't find out what was happening here. His boss had failed to mention that these kids had a better understanding of nuclear physics than the top engineer... He stopped in front of the docking bridge suspended over a gap that was approximately 20 meters deep, and provided access to the Geantsu's "command bridge". "Now people, the technicians are still working, so I must ask you not to disturb them. Any questions you have about things you see will be directed to me, not to any of the working men there."