A few weeks after writing her letter to her mom announcing that she is a naturist now, Amy decides to apply for a job at DeriMark systems. This is a sequel to "The Letter".
Interview with General Langley, Part 1
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Eden's creek is a universe I have been working on for over 3 years. This is the first short story in chronological order and it is set years before Eden's creek became a naturist city, back when it was still Base Sigma
I first met General Langley in Iraq, back in 2006. He was only a colonel at the time but already he showed signs of leadership and courage.
"The US Army is unable to stabilize Iraq simply because it has no real experience in running a non democratic government"
Unknown to me, this quote from my interview had circled around in Washington for years. It's only when Barack Obama left office that someone in the pentagon decided to actually listen to General Langley.
That's why it came as a surprise when the press secretary of the obscure "Civilian Control Operational Program" called me to set-up an interview with the General, more than 12 years my first meeting.
The flight to Base Sigma was done in secret, for its location is officially a well guarded secret. Of course, hiding such a major investment even in the desert of the Arizona is hard to do so rumours abound.
Most of the rumours were of course exaggerated. While there is an impressive terraforming effort on the premise, there is no transparent dome, only a lot of irrigation pipes laid in the middle of the desert.
Fences appear to have been constructed at random, not really protecting anything and freshly paved roads seem to form the basis of an invisible city.
"Base Sigma serves a triple purpose. It is an experiment to see if it is possible to reclaim a totally arid area devoid of precipitation and build a functioning self-sustained city. It is also a base of operation where the US Army is learning to coordinate a civilian population. Finally, it is planned to become a remote command center for various military operations, including for the piloting of drones and other semi-autonomous units".
At least, that was the official description given to me when I landed at the small but highly effective airport.
The command center and the hospital stood proud right next to the runway. I was guided to the top floor of the primary wing of the command center where General Langley greeted me with a smile.
Almost everyone I met told me how much he changed over the years, but oddly enough, I could see the same determination in his eyes. In Iraq, he wanted to tame the rebellion. Here, he wanted to tame the desert.
In his huge office resided a model of the Base Sigma valley. The model showed how the future base would be built, down to every single one of the thousands of houses and businesses. The mountains I had seen on the horizon were clearly modelled.
"It's only recently that we truly began understanding micro-climates. This area is much lower than the surrounding area. As you can see, we are surrounded on 3 sides by this mountain range, and the only exposed side is right above one of the biggest untouched underground aquifers in the continental USA. Our goal is simple. Add a thick layer of rich soil on top of the sand to allow the ground to retain most of it's water. Add a permeable barrier around the terraformed area to force the lost water to reach the aquifer and slowly increase the volume of the aquifer so it will actually reach the surface and form a lake. To further lock our humidity in, mature trees will be transported on the perimeter to act as a barrier"
Most people would have laughed at this idea only 5 years in the past, but new meteorological models allowed to precise adjustments in the weather. For example, new wind farms allowed to actually divert the wind or even slow it down to allow a higher level of humidity in an area.
The General freely admitted that the massive engineering made in Algeria to push back the Sahara desert greatly inspired him.
What wasn't exchanged openly however, was the passion that the General had for military control of civilians.
As you might already know, the General returned from Iraq as a Colonel and was only promoted on the day the USA withdrew from Iraq, preventing him from actually reaching his goal of being the best military Governor of the US Army. Lacking a foreign enemy on which to test his civilian control theories, the General began searching for a cause, until Global Warming was officially recognized as a threat to the USA.
To Fox News, he had then explained that "The US Army needs to take a leadership role in understanding how Global Warming could become a destabilizing force for the US Government. If an area suffers from a prolonged drought, this might mean the decent of a few states into Chaos which only the military might be able to fix"
The General then became a nuisance for the Pentagon who didn't take lightly suggestions of US Military encroachment on the constitution, but not everyone was opposed to the idea and this is how project Ciclop was born.
It was officially an acronym for "Central Institute for Climate Operations", but by the time General Langley officially took office, every letterhead and signs only showed the reduced and misspelled acronym. About a year ago, General Langley himself renamed it unilaterally "Civilian Control Operational Program", showing his true objectives.
"Our official objective is to find solutions to problems involving climate changes, but we strongly believe a logistical solution is not enough. Even if we manage to restore enough water supply to a region turned arid by global warming or the drying of their aquifer, it will never be enough for a civilian government to sustain. For example, a civilian government would need to justify watering change of rules such as for gardening when a rational approach requires constant adjustments."
The General took a pause to look outside at the horizon.
"It can take decades for any terraforming to be completed. It cannot be left to chance. If a single elected government decided to stop the efforts, the entire region might die despite years of preparation. I strongly believe that when faced with such devastation, the only recourse is a joint military and civilian government, with the military command in charge of the long-term terraforming operations and the civilian authority continuing on the rest of its traditional roles."
I respectfully asked how he thought it would work.
"We don't know yet. That's why Base Sigma exists. It will function as new hybrid between a military occupation and a civilian government. Instead of improving when a region starts to turn into a desert, we want to write the rulebook right here."
Despite the nice parks, the beautiful houses, I expressed the doubt that civilian families will actually want to move in the area.
"There will be jobs, and low cost houses. We need teachers for our kids. Grocery store employees, gardeners, electricians, construction workers. We hope to have over 2000 civilian families within 5 years living here, with enough room to increase the town to up to 20,000 families, including approximately 5,0000 military families. And because we are so far from everything, we'll need a working service industry."
An accident at one of the pumping stations interrupted our interview, but one of the corporals escorted me to my room in one of the barracks.
This is Neil Flemmings, reporting from Base Sigma