This is the first short adventure in the "Beam" series, followed by "Ship", "Sphere", and "Link".
This is how the story begins:
Elizabeth Stinton was frustrated. Her simulations for turbulence in her theoretical air sinter were a mess and if she didn't have something to show at the next board meeting she was pretty certain that they'd sell her startup for parts.
Standing up from her workstation to stretch her tired back and shoulders, she wondered for the third time in as many hours whether leaving academia and accepting venture capital for her big idea was a smart move. Who was she to believe that she could print objects from thin air?
A broke fool, she thought, if the damn venting system keeps blowing the prints out of the laser focus. As she turned back to pick over the latest simulation results, her mobile rang for the hundredth time, echoing off of the concrete floor and exposed beams of her converted warehouse office space.
Picking up her mobile, she said "What the hell? It's 3 am and if you want us to launch in Q3 then I need to think!"
"Is this Dr. Stinton?" said an unfamiliar and gruff voice that sounded powerful enough to be heard in a thunderstorm.
"Who is this?"
"This is Lt. Colonel William Hitchcock of the United States Air Force, ma'am, and we're sending a car to your location. We are activating the expert witness clause of your NIS funding."
"What?" Elizabeth grunted, sitting up for the first time.
"Pack a bag, ma'am, and bring something cool to wear."