A healthy but aging bearded man in a light vest walks the streets of the capitol city, weaving in and out of streets and light traffic, making his way to the local farmer’s market. It’s a typical sunny morning but the desert air is still cool from the previous night. The desert grasses along the road are a greener shade of brown thanks to the recent unseasonal rains, more flowers bloom than usual.
Human activity peppers the streets between the multistoried buildings. The citizens of the capitol walk through the downtown from shop to shop in unrestrained murmurations with last-mile deliveries and priority access cabs as the only vehicles allowed on the roads. By afternoon most residents will retreat to their habitats to seek refuge from the heat.
Strolling through the farmers market, the man’s posture is better than the other shoppers, the thread count of his clothes are a little bit higher. But he walks humbly, intently browsing the aisles of fresh produce and goods. He engages the vendors with a bit of rehearsed small talk and begins catching the eyes of passers by.
“You look familiar…” ponders the butcher aloud. “Wait a minute… you’re Governor Wiles! I’ll be. The governor of Solara himself. An honor, sir, truly. This is all on the house. Appreciate the work you’re doing.”
The bearded man humbly concedes his identity has been exposed. He politely insists on paying, not calling him “sir”, thanks the butcher for his wares, accepts invitations from onlookers to take photos with his polished smile, and waves goodbye as he attempts to make his way to his next errand.
The man is governor of the Solara prefecture, the territory occupying the entire desert biome with patches of forest lands in the north. Though it wasn’t always, Solara is the beating heart of the continent. Through investments in aero-turbines, geothermics, and harvesting the wealth of sun for its solar arrays; Solara is able to produce enough energy to power the entire country.
All Solarans share in the benefits of their natural resources: sun, wind, timber, and sand. Electricity in Solara is free thanks to a surplus of renewable energy. Through the Shared Power Agreement, Solarans enjoy a lower cost of living, more independent wealth, cost-manageable housing, fully funded schools, lower crime rates, and relative peace compared to neighboring territories. On occasion, legitimate and criminal enterprises will attempt to exploit the Shared Power Agreement, but the progressive taxation policy for over-use —the more you use the more you pay—tempers abuse. Although not a perfect system of government, it’s an amendable system where patches to laws issue frequently to ensure no one is getting undue advantages from the state.
As the governor made his gentle escape and rounded the short wall at the edge of the market a man in a blue suit, his chief of staff Louis Erickson, appeared in his sightline. Looking as pensive as he always does, Erickson began walking to intercept the Governor.
“It’s the weekend, to what do I owe the pleasure, Erickson?”
“I wouldn’t interrupt your weekend if it wasn’t serious. Storms are forming to the West and forecasters expect significant weather.”
“How bad?” the governor said, checking over his shoulder for eavesdroppers.
“Worse than last time. At least two or three times more rainfall expected.”
The governor let out a frustrated sigh and massaged his right temple, thinking through the potential fallout scenarios from the impending catastrophe.
“Okay. We can’t suffer any more erosion or levy breaks, we’ve already lost twenty percent of our solar capacity this year. But we also can’t have another false alarm. Are you sure?”
“I had our forecasters check it over twice.”
“Alright. Let’s get a plan in action. I will notify Federal. We won’t meet our energy quotas for the month, they’ll complain but they can at least make accommodations. Gather the disaster response team. I want flood plain maps and preemptive evacuations. No deaths like last time. Notify the solar fields and issue a public emergency broadcast to bring in the aero-turbines.”
“On it. I’ve already drafted a memo.”
“When you were taking photos with that woman and her baby.”
“How do you stay so productive in terrible times?”
“Workaholism, I suppose. There’s…” he trailed off, choosing his words. “There is another issue; we’ll need to buy nuclear power from Costa to cover any shortfalls.”
“Understood. Make it happen. If we have any more outages we’ll continue to lose the people’s trust, and without that trust we can’t govern effectively. These storms are destroying our progress.”
“Highest on record since terraform. It’s a bizarre matter of circumstan–”
“It’s a matter of political stability. Once was a horrific act of God, over and over is a failure of the job they entrusted to us. Failing will hand control to the opposition party who are hellbent on undoing the last two decades of progress. We need our best looking into why it’s happening and how can we mitigate the storms.”
“At once, sir.”
Two territories over in the Costa prefecture, inside a brutalist concrete government office building a man closes his laptop, crosses a large room, and notifies his superiors.
“Weather event launch successful, sirs.”
“Any chance they detected us?”
“No, sir. Most natural formation pattern to date.”
“Excellent, please be sure—”
“Sorry to interrupt, Solara is calling to negotiate an energy transfer.”
“Well, that was quicker than expected,” a grin forming across his stoic face. “Let’s see what’s the problem.”