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Deal With It

Pontiac, MI

Moira sat in a private meeting room at a coworking space, anxiously watching for her friend to arrive. She idly fidgets with a black and silver pronoun pin on her blouse. Before her on the table, a single sheet of paper. A stylized logo of a single-edged polearm underlined a company name in the right header. The document laid out the fundamental principles of the company Moira wishes to start.

Ashley Garcia opens the door quietly, and ensures it is closed before they greet Moira. "Good morning, Moira. How are you today?"

Moira's face lit up on seeing her teal-haired friend. "Sick with nerves and vibrating with excitement. You?"

Sitting down across from Moira, Ashe tucked a short stray lock of hair behind a heavily-pierced ear. "Oh dear. Well, I'm well, but I guess we'd best get to the matter at hand. Janais would stab me if I let you explode. You had a business proposal that you wanted me to weigh in on, yes?"

"Basically, yes, though it goes further than that. You know how Kian and Janais and I are working on an engine design?"

"I know that y'all are doing something, but I'm not aware of specifics."

"Good. I had hoped we had been discreet enough. Sososo. I ask that this meeting is entirely confidential no matter which decision you make."

"Of course. I can sign an NDA if you need." Ashe leaned forward, resting their arms on the table, looking into Moira's eyes with sincerity.

"I trust you fully, and I think we can skip that for now." Moira ducked her eyes towards the paper in front of her. "I have developed a family of technologies that promise to change the very concept of space launch and orbital work. Based on modeling and a very limited series of tests, I think it is reasonable to get to two dollars per pound to LEO--er, that is, low earth orbit, around one to three hundred miles up--within five years of operation."

She shifted on her seat and bored holes in the table with her eyes, taking a deep breath before continuing, ticking off points on her fingers. "The problems I face, that I hope you can help me with, are as follows: one, I need a lot of funding to proceed further and prove the concept, and I have absolutely no interest in affiliating with vee-cee money or doing any bullshit eye pee oh or eye cee oh," she wrinkled her nose in disgust as she pronounced the letters, "Two, for obvious reasons, this activity and funding ought to be under the auspices of a corporation; three, I am both unsuited to and devoutly disinterested in running a company of any kind, much less one of this magnitude; four, I feel very strongly that said company be, insofar as legally possible, a flat hierarchy co-op.

"Sosososo I would like," she pauses and, with enormous effort, drags her eyes back up to stare intensely at the plush, friend-shaped person across from her, "to ask you to both act as the chief executive and fundraiser for this company. Also, I would really really really like you to help me actually incorporate." She shuddered with the effort and twisted her fingers together under the table.

Ashe looked pensive for a moment, then asked, "May I see the brief?"

Moira started, blushed, and began mumbling apologies as she slid the sheet over to Ashe.

Ashe looked at her sternly. "Enough of that, you. I know how hard this is for you and I'm so proud that you and I are here. Let me read this and I'll probably have more questions in a minute." Moira nodded and visibly relaxed slightly.

Ashe turned their attention to the sheet.


  • Ad Astra Per Alas Porci

Probably Kian's sense of humor. Ashe rolled their eyes and continues reading.

  • No IPO/ICO
  • Co-op structure as far as legally possible

Development Phase I


  • Build and develop a prototype engine
  • Testing:
    • Low-speed low-altitude flight testing
      • Cheap beater plane?
    • High-speed high-altitude static testing
    • DARPA F-16 tunnel
    • hypersonic tunnel


  • Demonstrate engine performance
    • Thrust
    • Control
    • Multi-phase cycling
    • T/W ratio

Development Phase II


  • Develop a low-payload (2500kg?) LEO-capable SSTO airframe


  • Finalize engine performance testing
  • Orbital work
  • CubeSats?

Operation Phase III


  • LEO space station
  • Develop a medium-payload orbital shuttle


  • LEO/MEO work
  • Microgravity research
  • Tourism?

Operation Phase IV


  • Develop a large-payload MEO-capable SSTO airframe


  • LEO/MEO work

Operation Phase V


  • MEO space station


  • Geosync work
  • Moon?

Operation Phase VI


  • Earth-Mars-Belt cyclers; develop bulk-cargo modular shuttle


  • Mars<->Earth transport
  • Belt mining

Ashe finished reading and looked back up at Moira, who was literally on the edge of her seat.

"This...this is ambitious. Do you have data to back up your claims?"

Moira pulled out a massive, bestickered laptop and booted it. Logging in, she brought up a notebook showing projected thrust-to-weight curves, fluid consumption versus payload and altitude, and a wide variety of other analyses.

Ashe perused the data for a few minutes, then chuckled. "Moira, this is amazing. If you can achieve anything like a third of this...well, consider me onboard with whatever you need to succeed."

Moira bounces out of her chair, knocking it over on her way over to hug the larger person, burying her face into the dolphin on their left shoulder. "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou," she mumbled, tears streaming down her face and their arm.

Ashe ruffled her hair and gently says, "I'm looking forward to this partnership. I'll work on getting us incorporated. I assume Kian and Janais'll be partners as well?" A wet nod from the cling-on. "OK, I'll also keep an eye out for places to buy for our headquarters, shops, labs, and probably production lines eventually, yeah?"

Moira let go and wiped her face. "Yes, I would also like to stay within Pontiac so much as possible. I believe that we can help this city both by immediate taxes and with long-term employment and supporting industries."

Ashe nodded. "I think the old Pontiac tech center campus is for sale. Let me see if I can pull some strings."

Moira frowns. "Will we be able to test engines there? Pretty sure that is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. I insist on being a Good Neighbor."

"I'll dig around. Might be something available out west for that. Anything else right off the bat?"

"I cannot think of anything, and honestly I am completely out of spoons."

Ashe smiled. They were fairly extroverted, but they knew Moira was...not. And this was a hard thing to do, to hire someone to be your boss. "No te preocupes, Moira. I've got it covered. I'll let you know when there are decisions you or the others need to make. Have a good day!"

Moira grinned, grabbed her laptop and bag, and scrambled out of the room.

Ashe sat for a moment more, looking at the ambitious plan to radically alter local space travel. Then they folded the sheet once and put it in their bag, and left the room, starting to send out texts and calls as they walked.

"Time to get to work."