"The Second Law Has No Mercy"
President Mamadou Latheef
is painfully aware of the fact that
the Republic of the Maldives depends
entirely too much on energy sources
imported from foreign markets.
Relations with the Middle East are
tentative at best, fractious at worst, and
they control most of the world's fossil fuels.
The little island nation has an abundance
of natural resources in the form of
sun and wind and water, but
the preliminary reports of
oil and gas are dubious.
The President does not want
to risk an oil spill, and is not fond
of fossil fuels in general -- he prefers
the infinite potential of renewable energy.
He knows how inefficient it is
to import all of their energy,
and he comprehends that
the second law has no mercy.
Building a system of renewable energy
takes time, materials, personnel, and funding,
though, all things in limited supply.
So when an immigration application
from a soup named Windmolen
crosses the President's desk,
it fills him with fresh hope.
He begins to believe that
perhaps a solution can be found
which will keep his country above the waves
and all of the lights on as well.
Having grown up in Holland --
and nearly drowned as a toddler --
Windmolen understands in his heart
the great and terrible power of the sea.
He knows that there are ways
to harness the raw energy of
the waves and the wind.
So he devotes himself to learning
the science and the engineering and the skills
with which he can hope to hold back the sea.
It is not easy, and in Holland, not
as popular as conventional methods,
because he is going beyond simple windmills
to propose building whole artificial islands
driven by often-inimical forces.
Other people do not grasp
the wind and the waves as he does,
are not involved in wisselvak.
When Windmolen sees
the advertisement encouraging
people with superpowers
to move to the Maldives,
it spurs him into action.
He puts together a packet showcasing
the modular island whose kite-shaped pieces
each have their own windmill and garden;
the proud hextower rising above the waves,
powered by wind and sun, supporting orchards
and greenhouses above housing for their caretakers;
and the seascraper with its tuft of green bobbing atop
a deep spire of space to live, work, and play.
Windmolen sends it off on a wing and a prayer,
hoping against hope to find a warm reception
in a tropical island he has never seen.
He believes that his intelligence and
construction skills can make a difference there.
When the two men meet at last,
it is all they can do contain their excitement,
each as ardently hopeful as the other.
There are protocols to be observed,
forms to be discussed and filled and signed,
dignities to be respected.
But when all that is done,
they fling aside decorum in favor
of covering the President's coffee table
with rolls of paper and colored pens
and cups of rapidly cooling coffee.
They scribble ideas on napkins
and the big map of the Maldives.
They eat cheap Chinese out of cartons
because it's faster than going out for
supper at some restaurant, and they
don't take time to stop even when
the President's youngest daughter
slips in and plays with her toy boats
on the map at the end of the table.
They are trying to turn a hope into a reality,
and they finally have the authority and
the resources to make it happen.
The two men do not care that
the second law has no mercy,
because that is what justice
and civilization and industry
are for: fixing the flaws that
blind nature left in the world.
They believe that they can
keep their country above the waves,
and not just that, but make it even better
than it has ever been before, a beacon
of light and hope and tolerance
in a world torn by tensions.
* * *
Mamadou Latheef, President of the Maldives -- Elected after recent upheavals, President Latheef won on a progressive platform to stabilize Maldivian culture and ensure the survival of the nation in the face of climate change. He supports green energy, social programs, religious tolerance, and working with foreign interests for mutual benefit. While his people are wary about the religious tolerance, they recognize the urgent need to make allies if they are to survive. Mamadou has wavy black hair, black eyes, and brown skin. He is short, slim, soft-spoken, and overall unimposing. It's easy to underestimate him. He does not even realize that his exceptional way of understanding the future and influencing people are superpowers rather than ordinary skills.
Origin: Mamadou was born with the ability to influence people, which has grown stronger with age and experience. The extrapolative gift grew in later, probably around puberty.
Uniform: Business suit.
Qualities: Master (+6) Politician, Expert (+4) Environmentalist, Expert (+4) Family Man, Expert (+4) Seaside Skills, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Muslim, Good (+2) Tolerant, Good (+2) Wealth
Poor (-2) Respect from Other Nations
Powers: Average (0) Super-Extrapolation, Average (0) Super-diplomacy
Motivation: Preserve the Republic of the Maldives.
Windmill / Windmolen (Lammert Aaldenberg) -- He has a homely appearance with a dumpy body and square face. He has messy light brown hair, dark blue eyes, and ruddy skin. He is a Dutch super-gizmologist who specializes in urban planning and architecture. He has always enjoyed wisselvak, the craft of changemaking which is Dutch geek slang for gizmologie and super-gizmologie; he still builds veranderingen or self-mobile toys.
Dutch society has left Lammert with a lot of frustrated ambition. While they approve of his goals in water control, they disapprove of his methodology especially when it strays from gizmologie into super-gizmologie. His ideas are just too radical for a relatively conservative society; they keep trying to crush him down to "normal" level. This has left him without much of a support network, and thus vulnerable to outsiders. Several times Lammert has been kidnapped or threatened in an attempt to make him build things for supervillains or shadowy organizations, but he has always refused -- and usually foiled their plans in the process.
Windmolen moves from Holland in the Netherlands to Malé in the Maldives to build wave baffles and floating cities for them. He wants the wider opportunities for improving the world and making a real difference. He has been afraid of drowning ever since he was swept out to sea as a toddler and had to be rescued, but he refuses to let that limit him.
Origin: Lammert grew up studying historic scientists and alchemists, poring over their notes. This pushed the development of his mind until gizmologie shifted into super-gizmologie. The wind powers emerged later with no obvious source.
Uniform: On duty, he wears a tan shirt and matching pants or shorts, work boots, and hard hat. His company has a blue windmill logo that appears on his shirt pocket. Off duty, he likes button-up shirts and sweaters, often layered together. He is not a fan of vidwatches, however, and prefers the precursor style of heavily tricked-out wristwatch subdivided into different sections.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Intelligence, Good (+2) Civil Engineering, Good (+2) Never Gives Up, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Afraid of Drowning
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Gizmologie, Good (+2) Wind Powers
Motivation: To hold back the sea.
* * *
Climate change poses a major threat to Local-Earth, and a moderate one even in Terramagne with their better environmental awareness and superpowers. Sea level is rising, and likely to do so more rapidly. Storms are getting more intense as water warms.
Island nations are most threatened by climate change. Like the Republic of the Maldives, many of them are only a few meters above sea level and it doesn't take much to flood them. Others like Hawaii are fortunate to have taller mountains ... but their big cities are usually still on the coasts and therefore vulnerable.
Energy in the Maldives comes from imported oil, for which the demand is increasing. Although studies imply some sources of oil and natural gas within Maldivian territory, extracting it would be risky. Interest in renewable energy is rising.
Energy return on energy invested is a fundamental concern of power supplies. Hydroelectricity, wind, and coal perform the best, while natural gas, solar, and nuclear are much lower. The second law of thermodynamics states that "The entropy of an isolated system does not decrease." Put these together and you can see why fossil fuels seem so tempting, despite their drawbacks.
Wisselvak is Dutch for gizmology, changemaking; the craft of building things which transform themselves and change the world. They also say "gizmologie."
Artificial islands expand opportunities to make use of aquatic territory. This island is made from kite-shaped modules. This one features a hexagonal tower. The seascraper is not technically an island because it is free-floating instead of fixed, but it serves a similar purpose of colonizing the ocean.