an eBook in EPUB format. Robbie Vincent’s grandfather invented the Diablo Engine some 30 years previously, but it resulted in a tragedy and the family has been prohibited from working on it – other engineers have played with it over the years but nobody had ever been able to better the very modest anti-grav effects of the engine. It basically can’t lift more than its own weight no matter how big and powerful it is made. It has been relegated to the ‘cute but useless’ category. When Robbie manages to persuade his grandfather to allow him to experiment with it he makes a breakthrough by causing several very small Diablos to operate in close proximity so that their weak gravitation fields overlap slightly and amplify the effect. This is the Diablo Array, which comes with its own limitations – it can provide strong vertical lift but can’t be moved sideways.
The array is patented and the family engineering firm starts making the SteadyDevil – a simple platform for workmen that can be ‘flown’ straight up or down, and rivals cherry-pickers or fixed scaffolding. A simple device that is a great little earner in a narrow, niche market. Robbie’s future seems assured and, frankly, that’s all he wants. His next invention is a method of using two arrays for lift, rotating the platform around one array at a time to simulate a sickening ‘walking’ effect in mid-air. The A2 platform can crab sideways at a very slow rate, but extends the SteadyDevil to a much wider market... and more success.
At this stage Robbie pulls back from full-time inventing, since the family firm is now struggling to keep up with world-wide demand and is forced into licensing deals, but stumbles on a really radical way to make a Diablo Array move sideways, injuring himself in the discovery. Taking his time and keeping all his work under cover, he develops the capacity to ‘skip’ an array into and out of an alternate dimension momentarily, with a resulting displacement in space-time. Like using a tiny worm-hole, he calibrates skip distances of up to 30 kilometers, and the implications of Diablo Array craft with Skipper Drives starts to sink in. It could revolutionize transport on a global scale.
Being extremely careful, Robbie develops his Skipper Drive system unaware that he is being closely watched by patent poachers, and after he uses his prototype to rescue some mountain climbers, including his fiancée, media investigation puts him in a spot. He has to deny the rescue while racing to complete his patent application, but the other firm beats him to the punch, guessing from the media speculation roughly how his system works. His only recourse is to submit a patent application in the USA where proof of ‘Prior Invention’ is accepted.
The US Patent Office notifies their Australian counterpart of intention to challenge on the basis of Prior Invention, and this causes an Australian Senator to get involved after notification of possible court proceedings...
This sudden toxic cocktail of conflicting commercial, political, media, legal and personal interests sets in train a sequence of events...
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