Positrons and Paychecks – Part 1

((Time for another short story, I think! This one is set in a Sci-Fi universe that I’ve been working and reworking on since …well, high school. Maybe I’ll get somewhere with it this time? Who knows!))

“What’s the status on PoWAP?”

“Same as usual – we’ve made several discoveries, but nothing usable.”

“You’re not being paid to make discoveries, Varnum! I need results in order to keep funding your program. What about those positron things that you mentioned at the last shareholders meeting? Any progress with that?”

“We had devised a way to stabilize generated positrons, and developed a miniaturized synchrotron for positron acceleration. However, I don’t– “

“Can it be weaponized?”

“In theory?”

“How long for either the model or a prototype?”

“We can have a theoretical model for you in a few weeks, but a prototype could take up to a year or more, depending on weapon reliability…”

“Great! I’ll arrange for a meeting of the board in two weeks. Have your team prepare a presentation of the model and plans for the prototype by then.” Click!

I put the phone down. “Yep, great. Thanks, Dick.”


My name is James Varnum, and I run the Materials and Energy Division of an R&D company called ARC. No, not the American Red Cross – they have no jurisdiction up here. No, my ARC stands for Advanced Robotics Creation – a name that doesn’t particularly suit our company as much anymore. Sure, we had a hand in designing the automated defense platform that helped in the last war, and we are one of the first companies to have a satellite laboratory in geosynchronous orbit, but we don’t do as much with robotics as we did in the early days. Now, we simply do a little bit of everything – defense contracts, space-capable vehicles, terraforming – anything to help colonization of the rest of our solar system.

Most of our money has been coming from US DoD contracts recently – they want a new weapons platform that can be used on the moon for defense of their lunar base. A good deal of interplanetary travel involves landing on either the moon or Mars for refueling. As a result, the US and UN both want the implementation of space-capable weapons platforms to assist in the defense of their respective supply depots. Since the states have more funding (and a larger stake in the company), we were working with them for the prototypes. If successful, these platforms would then be sold to each of the major colonies.

For some reason, the contracts were ‘requesting’ that positron technology be used in the platform. Whether it be due to the recent implementation of a positron annihilation power plant outside of NYC or the brass remembering the initial tests of a positron bomb from a few years back, they seemed to believe that it was the way to go, despite other, more well-established technologies. But, they gave ARC a blank check to design something effective, so positrons it was.

The CEO, Richard Clark, was adamant on keeping the States happy, to keep funding his other projects. I had to do what I could. Sighing, I started to type up an email. If we were to meet these deadlines, I’d need to pull people from nearly every division. As well as almost all of the theorists…I hit the SEND button, and waited for the immediate deluge of responses. I wasn’t disappointed.


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