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Power to the People

Terrazo scratched in the sterile sand, muttering curses to the older gods before quickly thinking better of that and crossing himself. The Umfundis had warned him about that, and now that his body was lost to this awful place, he must be even more careful of his soul. He dug out furrows and planted seeds, muttering again. Nothing would grow here in the Namib Desert! Even Father George, who was a saint, could not pray up enough rain, and the land was barren, the white men must know that . . . .

It had been bad enough in Walvis Bay, where Father George had his last mission. But now to be sent here, hundreds of miles from any town, where there were no people, only a corrugated iron and fiberglass church and rows of prefabricated barracks with no one in them—it was more than he could bear. When he had first been given the job as sexton to Father George, he had been proud. It was a good position, there would always be enough to eat. But the Umfundis had been sane then. Now he was quite obviously mad, to bring Terrazo into this desert where there was no water and never would be . . . .

He finished the vegetable garden Father had told him to plant behind the church. "There will be water, Terrazo," Father had told him. Terrazo shook his head and went inside the church building. Dry baked heat tore at his lungs. Even Christ Himself must suffer in this! He genuflected to the altar, decided to let the dust stay in the pews until night although usually he polished everything at least once a day. The Lord would understand.

Outside again he looked across at the sea, waves pounding ceaselessly against the sandy beach. A cooler breeze sprang up and Terrazo stood gratefully in the shade of the church. A glint from the sea caught his eye and he looked out toward the horizon . . . . Something seemed to be out there, something bright and much too big. He shook his head. The heat could do that to a man. Deliberately he looked away, squinted across barren sands toward the mountains fifty miles inland. There was iron there, and lead, Father George had said, and men would mine it and send it here to the shore to be smelted and worked. And there would be farms here, and houses, a whole city. Terrazo shook his head again, the whites were mad, no one could ever live in the Namib, and who would want to if they could? But he was sexton to Father George, and he would show he was worthy of his post. Perhaps someday he could persuade Father to go back to Walvis Bay, where there were people to come to his church.

The glitter caught his eye again. It was closer now. Terrazo stared unbelievingly, crossed himself, and ran to the tiny parsonage fifty yards from the church, ran in terror, screaming, "Father, Father, come quickly, Father, there is a mountain coming across the sea!"


Captain Rollo Anderson was paying careful attention to his charts. Hrelsvelgor IV was nearing her final anchorage and had to be placed just right. He glanced at the speed indicators, nodded, and turned to the mate. "Signal 'Finished with Engines'," he commanded. "And tell the reactor boys they better secure for earthquake. She'll come to ground in an hour."

"Aye aye, skipper. I'll signal the tug, shall I?"

"Right, although I expect they know. But I want them standing by just in case the current's different from what I thought. We'll want to place the old girl just right."

Anderson stood in a heated bridge compartment at the forward edge of an iceberg moving at nearly three knots. It had taken six months to bring the berg from the Antarctic to the African coast, and most of the crew was sick of it; now the voyage was over. She'd gouge out a hell of a hole when she went aground, big enough to form a harbor for ships coming to the Namib, or at least that's what the Company engineers had calculated. Nobody had ever tried making a harbor this way before, although Antarctic icebergs were standard sources of fresh water. Anderson had commanded three previous Hrelsvelgors, two to Los Angeles and one to Florida.

"Beacon bearing 20°," a cadet called from his post on top of the berg.

Anderson nodded. "Standby anchors," he ordered. He turned to his charts. Looked like good holding bottom here, and the depth sounder showed they were entering the hundred fathom line. Tricky business, the anchors would be needed to hold the melting berg offshore after she grounded. He could drop them now, or let the tugs take them out later . . . . "Drop stern one and two," he said softly.

The iceberg moved onward. Anderson decided she was drifting off course and had the tug push against her port side to hold her against the current. With the reactor shut down and secured against the coming jolt he had no power.

The depth finder pinged alarm. It was shoaling rapidly now. "Let go numbers four, five, and seven anchors! Tug clear away!" Anderson ordered. There was a long wait, one minute, two, then the first shudder, another, grinding fury as the iceberg slid inexorably across the bottom toward the shore. Steam boiled up from the ocean, steam and bubbles and mud as the four-mile-long mass ground to a halt.

"Not so bad," the mate said. "No worse shock than I thought."

"Reactor secure. All's safe," the bridge speaker announced.

"Anchors secure and holding fast."

"All motion stopped."

Anderson nodded in satisfaction. Just about where the Company wanted her, anyway. He began to unscrew the brass nameplate above the wheel. "Hoist the black ball, Mister," he told the mate. "And decommission the ship. She's not ours anymore."

The executive jet whistled over the South Atlantic, dropping from its cruising altitude to a few hundred feet. It was almost to the African coast when Bill Adams looked up to see Courtney Graves's heart-shaped face and long blond hair. She smiled, then blushed slightly. Adams had chosen her as his executive assistant a year before, and so far that's all she'd been, but she could hope . . . only the man was married to his job! She wished he had time for something else, not that it had been all work these past months. Bill Adams knew about entertainment, and in their travels he took her to the most exotic shows in places no one had ever heard of. Sometimes he bought her presents . . . but that's all he did, and yet she knew he didn't have another girl, and his wife and daughter had left him ten years ago. His wife said she wanted a husband, not a visiting father.

Adams stretched and ran long fingers through sandy hair that kept falling over his pale blue eyes. Time for a haircut. "Got me some coffee, Courtney?"

"Yes, sir." She went forward to get it while Bill looked at the desolate African coast. The Namib Desert, said to be one of the bleakest places on earth. Sure is, he thought. He looked ahead for the Station.

The iceberg was the first thing he could see. Partly melted now, it was still huge, three miles of ice angling out from the shore. One end of the berg was aground, the other held offshore by anchors, creating a quiet, protected deep water harbor gouged out by the berg's fury when it crashed ashore. Quite a concept, Adams thought. Too bad we can't patent it.

Courtney brought him the coffee and sat opposite to face him. Nice kid, he thought. Too nice for casual affairs. Besides, she reminded him of his daughter and was the best assistant he'd ever had on the technical stuff, didn't pay enough attention to important matters like finance, but she was learning. Give her a couple of years, she'd be ready to take on a job as an independent troubleshooter for Nuclear General. Then, when she wasn't working directly for him, maybe . . . only then he'd probably never see her.

"Looks like they're coming along nicely," she said. "Of course, we saw it all from the satellite pictures, but . . ."

"Yah. The real thing's always a little realer, if you know what I mean. Tell me what I'm seeing."

"Yes, sir." She shook her head slightly, rippling long blonde curls. Bill Adams was undoubtedly the most brilliant man she'd ever met, but he acted as if he didn't know much. Sometimes he didn't, either. You could never tell when he was fishing for information and when he had made a thorough study . . . . "The big square color patches are the solar salt works. Brines from the desalinization plants go in one of them, sea water in the others. It took a lot of plastic film to line the bottoms . . . the large buildings along one row of solar ponds are purification plants. Potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, Portland cement, the things we can get from sea water. I. G. Farbenwerke runs that part of the Station."

"Hmm." Adams sipped his coffee. "Heard from von Alten yet?"

"Yes, sir. He's already at the Station. So are most of the others."

"Good. Give 'em time to look things over. OK, what's the rest of this gubbage?"

Courtney eyed him carefully. Just how much was he putting her on? As far as she knew he had never been a professor, he hardly had time for it since he wasn't yet forty, but sometimes he reminded her of one, asking questions to see if his staff had done their homework . . . but then he really might not know. He mostly studied financial reports; his favorite saying was "Leave engineering to the engineers."

"The things that look like railroad roundhouses are our reactors and sea-water flash evaporators, the round ponds next to them are treatment pools where they precipitate out solids with the KOH-HCL process."

"What's that big complex near the runway?" Adams asked.

She nodded. "That's the Allis-Chalmers electrolysis cells. Ammonia synthesis next to it. And just beyond that, the pink concrete building, is the GE experimental steam-hydrogen process fertilizer plant. It's supposed to be a lot more efficient than Allis-Chalmers, but there're bugs."

The plane circled low over the desert as the pilots got landing instructions. Adams pointed as they banked steeply. "I see the railroad's working." With the electric ore train to bring the scale into focus he examined the rest of the Station. He knew from the reports that the industrial complex stretched along nearly four kilometers of seacoast and three inland, and beyond the industrial buildings were three-hundred-thousand acres of land either under cultivation or being made ready for it. The irrigation grid was plainly visible, and bright red tractors moved between the pipelines. There were another fifty-thousand acres of solar salt lakes and bitterns ponds . . . . Otjiwar was big, but for a billion dollars it ought to be big. "What's the crop now?" he asked, pointing to the tractors.

She took a sheaf of papers from her briefcase. "The crop phasing's pretty delicate," she told him. "Right now they're in the high export value pattern. Harvesting dry beans and cotton, planting winter wheat and potatoes behind the harvesters. This pattern uses the least water, but the government wants them to switch to a high-calorie system for exports to Rondidi."

"Yeah, I know," Adams said. His voice was harsh. "They call it foreign aid. I call it Danegeld. That's why we're here."


Adams climbed down from the executive jet and mopped his brow immediately. Heat shimmers rose from the cement runway. "My God, it's hot here!" he said to the man waiting below the ramp. "Excuse me, Father . . . ."

Father George Percy grinned. "If you want to tell the Almighty something that must be quite obvious to Him, that's your affair." Father Percy was a short, heavy man with no trace of fat but broad shoulders and thick arms. He wore white trousers and shirt with clerical collar, a small gold cross on a chain around his neck, and his accent was the heavy modified British of South Africa. "Have a good flight?"

"Good enough." Adams mopped his brow again. The handkerchief was soaked.

"It's best we get inside," the priest told him. "Aren't your people coming?" He led the way to a waiting Jeep and held the door for Adams.

"There's just the one, and she wants to look at the phosphorus plant," Adams said. "I let Courtney run around these places on her own. She might find out something. Let's go, I want to see Jeff."

"He's in his office. Lot of work for the Station Chief. I told him I'd meet your plane." The priest studied Adams closely. He'd only met this sandy-haired American once before. It wouldn't do to get Mr. Franklin in more trouble than he was in, Jefferson was a good man.

"Quit worrying," Adams said, reading his thoughts. "There are standing orders all through the Company that station chiefs aren't to meet my plane. You're not very familiar with Nuclear General, are you, Father?"

"No. When the Mission Society put me here as their representative I tried to get out. I'm only a missionary, Mr. Adams. I don't belong on something as technical as this."

They were driving across the shimmering runway toward a group of concrete and fiberglass buildings at its edge. The big domes of the nuclear reactors towered over the administration buildings, and beyond them were barracks for the four thousand natives and five hundred foreign technicians living at Otjiwar Station. Next year there would be more than forty thousand people here—if the Station survived, Adams added to himself. It seemed problematical.

Even through dark glasses and white pith helmet his eyeballs and head felt baked. Wouldn't they ever get to the air-conditioned buildings? The Station was big, they'd been driving for several minutes now. "How do you like it here, Father?"

"I've been in worse places. We even have air conditioning in the church and some of the houses. But I fear it's a waste of power, and I really shouldn't use mine."

"Trivial waste, Father," Adams said. "Giving the farm workers air conditioning increases production, cuts down on their water consumption. Besides, we pipe the heat from the air conditioning units into the solar evaporators, so we don't lose much." Except to envy, he added to himself. And that might be the biggest loss of all . . . .

The Jeep pulled up at the glaring white Administration building. The native driver leaped from his seat to open the doors for Adams and the priest, another uniformed guard examined their identification before waving them to the elevators.

They went to the top of the four-story building, past a miniskirted European secretary to Jefferson Franklin's office. The Station Chief was in shirtsleeves, his collar open. Franklin stood at a draftsman's table across the room from his desk. His black skin glistened with sweat, and his face contorted with emotion as he shouted at a white man. "I don't care what the Prime Minister says! I can't switch crops. It takes almost 200 gallons of water a day to grow food for one man with this crop pattern, and I can't afford the water for the high-calorie system., So stop bothering me about it, Mr. Bloomfort!"

"The desalinization equipment works splendidly, I've seen it," Bloomfort replied. He was a short, dumpy man with beads of sweat standing out above his small brown mustache. Both men looked as if they were out in the plant area, not in an air-conditioned office. "The foreman says you won't give him enough power to operate at full capacity."

"Damn right I won't. I can't, I have the phosphate production to keep up! The fresh water plant runs at full capacity when the sun's up. We never intended to run it full time at peak." He glanced up. "Hi, Bill. Mr. Bloomfort, this is Bill Adams, Special Assistant to the Chairman of Nuclear General. Bill, Anton Bloomfort, Undersecretary of the Interior."

As Adams and the politician shook hands, Franklin continued, "Maybe you can talk some sense into him, Bill. I can't. He wants us to change to ten-crop or high-calorie so they'll have something to give Ifnoka."

"We must give him food," Bloomfort said. "He has an army and threatens to invade. Their sabotage has cost us much already."

Adams nodded grimly. "That's why I'm here. Tell me about this Ifnoka."

"He is Chairman of the African People's Union," Bloomfort replied. "Although Premier Tsandi does not care for him, Ifnoka controls the army in Rondidi, and his party is strong in Botswana. He has followers in the Republic of South Africa, and some here."

"And what's he want?" Adams prompted.

"He says food for Rondidi. Ultimately . . ." The politician's half smile melted to a grim mask.

"Ultimately, he wants Otjiwar!" Jeff Franklin said.

"I've heard." Adams nodded and turned to Bloomfort and the priest. "I've only just arrived, give me a few hours, will you?" Humph, he thought. Only a half hour and I'm already picking up that clipped British speech pattern. "Father, can you take Mr. Bloomfort wherever he wants to go?"

Father Percy smiled. "What you're saying is can we get out of the way so you can talk to your Station Chief in private. Of course. I'll see you later, Mr. Adams. Dinner with the Bishop and me perhaps?"

"Thank you, yes . . . ." Adams waited until the others had left the room. "OK, Jeff, give it to me straight."

"It's simple enough," Franklin told him. He ran stubby black fingers through close-cropped tangled hair. "I can't handle it. I thought I could, Bill, I really did, but I can't. OK, so you wanted a black man as Station Chief here. Looked like a good idea at the time. But that's what you're here for, isn't it? To yank me?"

"Crap." Franklin looked up, surprised. "You think we put you in here because you're black? If I'd had a better white man I'd have put him here. MacRae's on Tonga, Martinez is a sea farmer, Horton's—the hell with it, I'm not running through the list. Mr. Lewis put you here because I thought you were the best man for the job, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and tell me what you can't handle."

"Yes, sir." Franklin looked at Adams quizzically. Adams grinned.

"I'll also fire you the instant I think you can't handle it."

"Yeah." Franklin turned to the draftsman's table. "Technically we're pretty good despite the sabotage. Only minor stuff anyway, tractors, some pumps and water lines, nothing we can't fix. They don't want to hurt the Station, they want it intact." He pointed to the blueprints. "Farms are laid out, getting a crop from eighty thousand acres. Not as good yields as we'll get later, it takes time to condition soil as poor as this, and the workers are only learning how it's done—Bill, they don't know anything! If it wasn't for the Mission schools, we'd be in real trouble. Our schools are set up to take people at a little higher level than we've got."

Adams nodded. "I'll tell Courtney we need some of those Sesame Street-type TV tapes. Got TV in all the family quarters yet? Make sure you do."

Franklin made a note on a scratch pad. "Computer's got the usual bugs," he said. "Had to plug some problems through Santa Barbara—our communications satellite came in handy. Weather's held good, hotter than we expected so we get plenty of evaporation. Portland cement and magnesium production are up twenty percent over predicted . . . ."

"How'd the harbor work? Captain Anderson was worried."

"Rollo always worries that he's put one of those bergs a millimeter off. No sweat, and she's melting fine in this sun. If I had four more I wouldn't have a water shortage. Bill, if it wasn't for the sabotage and government pressure I'd be fine."

Adams shook his head. "Finances are close, Jeff. Which puts Meissner and some of the other backers in a mood to cut their losses. The riots in Nigeria aren't helping them decide to sink more money in Africa either. They may bail on us, Jeff."

Franklin whistled. "What happens then?"

Adams shook his head again. "Bad. The Old Man can't finance this deal alone, it's too big. We'll come out all right if we get the plutonium production up, but the whole integrated agro-industrial concept is on trial here. You know what happens if you're on your own better than I do . . . ."

They were interrupted by a knock. Courtney Graves came into the room, her long blonde hair in a tangled swirl, her white blouse soaked. "It's hot out there. Hello, Mr. Franklin."

"Hi, Courtney . . . . Look, Bill, if Farbenwerke and Krupp bail on us, we're dead. It takes about a grand an acre to develop the farms, and sure, some of that's fixed cost we've already hacked, but it's still about $750 an acre from here to the end."

"A hundred and sixty million dollars," Courtney said quickly before Adams could take out his calculator. He never could do figures in his head. "But that's not the real problem, is it, Mr. Franklin?"

Jefferson Franklin shook his head. "No. The chemical works, fertilizer production, electrolyzers—everything was built modular, and we're just about to capacity with what we've got. We need the new units the backers were sending in. I'm not even sure Nuclear General can recover the investment if we can't finish the project . . . . It all depended on the integration, power and heat and water and everything phased in just right, and it takes a damn big scale for it to be economical . . . ."

"Instant industrialization," Courtney finished. "The only industry in this country. It's just got to work! These people have nothing without us . . . ."

"This is not a venture in altruism," Adams reminded her.

"It is for the World Mission Society," she retorted.

"We're trying," Franklin said. "When the World Court made South Africa turn Namibia loose, the SA's were pretty generous by their lights. Gave Namibia twenty-four million bucks, that's about forty dollars a head, just about the annual income. Loaned them another ten million on a long-term low-interest deal. And that's all these people have got. They sunk every penny in Otjiwar, no wonder they worry about Ifnoka. And look, even in the fertile parts of this country it takes fifty, a hundred, sometimes two hundred acres to feed a man."

"How're you doing here?" Adams asked.

"Current production, we can feed ten people an acre. That's using two thousand gallons of water per acre a day. We've also got enough power to make the fertilizers, and some chemicals and cement for construction and export. I can feed the whole population of Namibia and still have surplus cash crops to sell Israel . . . I could before this mess started, anyway."

Adams found the coffee pot behind the drafting table's console. "Tell me about this refugee situation."

"Over a hundred thousand have come in. Ifnoka encourages them, tells them they'll get jobs, the good life, money—and we can't give it to them. They stream into the cities and make trouble for the government. Even though they get more here than where they came from, it's not enough . . . ."

"Yeah." Adams was grim. "That's when people usually riot, when they're getting more but not as much as they expected." He poured coffee.

"Where do they come from?" Courtney asked.

"God knows," Jeff told her. "The Republic. Botswana. Rondidi. All over Africa, I think. Jesus, Bill. I don't know what to do, and Father Percy's no help. He says feed them, never mind the cost."

"You can't solve famine by feeding people," Adams intoned. "First principle of ecology. If you can't make people self-sufficient, your relief does more harm than good. OK, that's about ten thousand acres, another ten million bucks investment to expand—can you do it?"

Franklin went to his desk and moved a lever. A console pivoted up from the desk top, and he punched at its buttons for a moment. "Won't take ten million," he said. "I can expand another ten thousand acres for about seven. Costs us up to three percent of our chemical export capacity, though, and there'll be no reserve power left at all. And what good is it, Bill? There'll just be more of 'em. Ifnoka makes it sound like this is paradise."

"Leave that to me," Adams said. "OK, I want to look at the figures and digest your reports. Loan me an office, I need a console and a phone—Oh. Invite Ifnoka and what's his name, Premier Tsandi of Rondidi, to the conference."

"They won't come," Franklin said.

"They'll come. Ifnoka asked to come. I got the message relayed from Santa Barbara. Tsandi's scared to let Ifnoka make deals without him. They'll be here."


The conference room was crowded. In addition to a dozen men at the long table, more sat in chairs or stood at the end of the paneled room. Bill Adams took his place at the head of the table and nodded to the group.

It was quite an assembly. Harrison of Allis-Chalmers, Feldstein from General Foods, Meissner of the Bayer Kartel, von Alten of I. G. Farbenwerke . . . Over in one corner Father Percy sat with a small greying man in black clerical clothing. The Bishop of Exeter, representing the World Mission Society. The orthodox church sponsors included both the Romans and Anglicans, as well as Coptics and Byzantines, and among them they'd raised two hundred million dollars, making their investment second only to Nuclear General's.

Ifnoka sat at the other end of the table. He was a tall man, brown rather than black, and wore green robes trimmed with gold. The garb made Courtney smile, but carefully. Ifnoka had been born Henry Carter of Canton, Ohio, educated in the U.S.A., took advantage of the Emigrant Act of '92. Two thousand dollars and a one-way ticket anywhere you wanted, just renounce your U.S. citizenship and residency rights forever . . . . Handsome enough man, she thought. Tall, slim . . . but cold, staring at Bill Adams with hatred. The man next to Ifnoka was dressed in western business clothes. Francis Tsandi, Premier of Rondidi. His Freedom Party ruled that country. But Ifnoka's African People's Union controlled the army and most of the weapons. China wanted a foothold in Rondidi, but so far Tsandi had resisted them as thoroughly as he'd resisted the western bloc. Couldn't possibly last long, Courtney thought. But she noted that Adams greeted Tsandi warmly although he had only a perfunctory handshake for Ifnoka. Now just what did the boss have in mind?

Adams cleared his throat. "Let's skip formalities and start at the beginning. When this consortium first planned the agro-industrial complex, we'd intended to put it on either the west coast of Australia or the Rann of Kutch. It looked like maximum profits in those areas."

"And I still say we should have gone to Australia," an Oxford-accented voice said from the left side of the table. "There wouldn't have been any political problems. British Overseas Investments—"

"Argued very well for a Commonwealth site, Sir James," Adams finished for him. "But the limiting factor was money, and the price of money is up to fourteen percent. When Southwest Africa and the Mission Society made their offers, you all agreed."

"Ja, ja, we agreed, it is not time for what might have been," von Alten said. He didn't look at all like a Prussian aristocrat, in fact reminded Courtney of a sausage shopkeeper. The appearance was deceiving; von Alten held nearly the same position with Farbenwerke as Adams did with Nuclear General, and spoke for most of the Common Market investors. "While we are discussing trivia, you will please tell us why we must hold this meeting in Otjiwar? You have brought us here for what that we cannot do in Geneva?"

"I think it's well to see the stations, Herr von Alten," Adams said smoothly. "Gives the investors a chance to see what our people are faced with firsthand."

"What your people are faced with I do not know," the German said. "But we are faced with losing a lot of money. We have contracts to deliver phosphates and potassium, and if we do not get them here we must buy on the world market."

Adams nodded.

"And I do not understand why it is that when only a small percent of the power of this station is diverted to agriculture my chemicals production falls by thirty-five percent!"

"If you're hearing complaints, General Foods is getting shorted on cereal deliveries," Feldstein said quickly. "And we have contracts with Israel . . . Do you know the problems involved in trying to arrange transport through U.S. ports? We have the wheat, but the dockworkers—"

"Greed." The single word cut through a rising babble. Ifnoka stood, walked to the window overlooking the harbor. "Greed. You talk of money, and out there are three ships loading with food and chemicals, bound for foreign ports and carrying with them the lifeblood of Africa! For what? To satisfy your greed!"

"Now just one moment, we . . ." von Alten began.

"Let him finish," Adams said.

Ifnoka sat again, resumed his dignified stare. "I can wait. Proceed."

As if it were his meeting, Courtney thought. But Adams was letting him get away with it . . . .

"Courtney, if you please," Adams said.

She took her place at the chartboard behind Adams, lifted the pointer, and stood for a moment to gather her thoughts. He's always letting me make presentations. Says it surprises people to find out how much I know, that they pay more attention to me than him, most of them being men . . .

"As most of you know," she began (Damn. Mr. Adams says never begin with that phrase), "the key to successful operations of this type is size. For a light water reactor producing five hundred megawatts electrical the best internal return on investment is about six percent, overseas exports to the world market about half that. By increasing the size of power source to four thousand MWe we can get as high as thirty-five percent internal return, and over nineteen percent on the world market, but it requires an enormous capital investment."

"Actually, we don't need that much, do we?" Sir James Fortnum of British Overseas asked carefully. "Namibia operates on internal return, and the Church can stagger along a couple of years with no return at all. Correct, your lordship?" he asked the Bishop.

"Correct for a few years, Sir James. But to raise this enormous sum we had to convince the donors that this is seed money to be recovered for other development work."

"Thank you, my lord," Courtney said. "I was just coming to that. But first, to answer Herr von Alten, the reason chemical production falls so sharply with small unscheduled increases in agricultural production is that this project is very carefully integrated. We can't process the brines without power which is being used for water. The chemicals are concentrated, Herr von Alten, but they are still in the bitterns."

"So my chemical is only delayed?" von Alten asked.

Jeff Franklin answered. "Correct, sir, but the delay is long, because even if we have full power available it's already budgeted. It takes a while to catch up, and with more refugees pouring in demanding food and power—"

"Power to the people!" Ifnoka said quietly. Everyone stared at him but he didn't say anything else.

"I take it there's a point to this?" They turned toward the beefy man at the end of the table. Joe Bentley of Bethlehem Steel. "You're warning us that this can happen to us all, is that right, Bill? We don't expect steel production for a year, but we've got contracts . . . ."

"It could happen," Adams said.

"Then I'm authorized to tell you the Station had better be prepared for delays in equipment deliveries," Bentley said carefully. "We can't afford to invest this heavily in a project that's already telling us it can't meet deadlines. Sorry, Bill, but that's the way it is."

"Und ve think hard about more investments anywhere in Afrika," Meissner, the Bayer Kartel man, said heavily. "Next time, by God, ve go to some civilized place to put our monies in, ja?"

There was a chorus of muttered agreement around the table, then silence. Courtney began her technical briefing, but she could see it was no use. They'd made up their minds.


The paneled room seemed nearly empty, but there were still plenty of people in it, Adams, Franklin, Father Percy and the Bishop, von Alten for the Common Market, Joe Bentley for the U.S. companies. They waited after the others went to lunch. Courtney brought coffee and took her place at Bill Adams's left.

"Didn't mean to throw it at you like that, Bill," Joe Bentley said. "But it's true. The Board's never been enthusiastic about this goddam African venture to start with, even if there is good iron ore back in the hills and labor at reasonable costs . . . . Political situation's always seemed too damned unstable. Now you've proved it."

"Ja, ja, so what we didn't like has come to pass. What now? That's the question," von Alten said. He rubbed his fat hands together. "And I have seen Bill Adams too often pull the rabbits out of the empty hat before. What have you in mind?"

"First, I need an agreement," Bill said. "I've invited Ifnoka and Premier Tsandi to meet us informally without the others. Oh, Bloomfort will be here for Namibia too. Now, I'm going to talk tough, and I need your backing. No wavering, gentlemen, none at all."

"How tough?" Father Percy asked. "Do you intend to threaten them? With force, weapons?" Adams nodded. "Threaten them and mean it." It's not going to work, Courtney thought. The priests won't . . .

"The Church can't accept that," Father Percy said. "It can't?" Adams addressed the Bishop. "Tell me, my lord, what will the failure of Otjiwar do to your Mission plans?"

"Destroy them, of course," the Bishop said. "We'd hoped this station would be a model for the world. And once we'd recovered the investment here, we planned to build more stations like this in other parts of the undeveloped world. India, east Africa . . ."

"And instead you're willing to let a two-bit American hoodlum steal your investment and blow all those plans?" Jeff Franklin asked. "Make no mistake, Your Reverence, if Ifnoka gets his hands on Otjiwar, he'll bring the Chinese in. Just what do you think they'll do for the people of Namibia? Or anywhere else in Africa?"

"It had occurred to me," the Bishop said dryly. "Yet—the picture of the Church threatening people with weapons is hardly in keeping with our ideals."

"If you're willing to give up, I can't save a thing," Adams told them. "And you'll have condemned all these people to primitive conditions. What good are your schools without some place for the graduates to work? Damn it, these agro-industrial complexes are the first serious attempt to do something lasting in black Africa, and if this one fails it'll be a long time before anyone else—"

"When I think of the money wasted in gifts here," Father Percy said. "Now, when there is something that might actually change their lives, we must make a profit on it or it won't happen. I find that as distressing as Ifnoka does."

"Don't let your heart bleed over Henry Carter," Jeff Franklin told them. "That bloody crook is only interested in power for himself, not the people."

"Haven't you missed the point?" Adams asked quietly. "The reason Nuclear General is exporting technology is simple: the political situation in the United States is abominable. Between the 'ecologists' and the anti-capitalists we don't dare build a complex like this in Florida. We've all come to Africa in the hopes of making money, not to industrialize people."

Cruel, Courtney thought. But true enough. The World Mission Society could only raise a sum like eight hundred million once. The big companies supporting the project put most of their risk capital here. If it were lost, no one would ever come back. And these people needed help.

"Well, gentlemen?" Adams asked. "Can I count on you? For silence, at least?" There was no answer from the clergymen. Finally Adams turned to Courtney. "Bring 'em in."


It was Ifnoka's turn. The project had been explained, the clergy had pledged Mission Society investments in Rondidi if they could recover their money from Otjiwar. Bloomfort promised police support for the Station, and Franklin showed that Namibia could handle the refugee population it already had, but not more. Now Ifnoka spoke.

As before, he went to the window. But he had noticed Premier Tsandi's interest in a station like Otjiwar for Rondidi, the man's obvious fear the whites would pull out and leave. Otjiwar unfinished, abandon Africa. A weak man, Tsandi. He would have to be replaced soon. The African People's Union was almost strong enough, there were only the Rondidi police to resist a coup. Tsandi had kept the army small, and though it was controlled by Ifnoka it would not be enough if the police resisted. But Tsandi was here in Namibia, not at home. If he could be kept here and Ifnoka get word to Rondidi . . .

Meanwhile, talk. Henry Carter of Ohio was dead. There was only Ifnoka, the voice of his people. He pointed to the harbor. "The blood of Africa sails on those ships. Phosphates, grains, nitrates, fertilizers, cement, the things we must have. And you take them away for money! What Rondidi could do with them! And the food! But you dare tell us we must bleed our land to support your greed! It will not be. The food is here, the land is here, and the people will come here for what is theirs by right. Power to the people!"

He turned to Bloomfort. "Your Premier keeps you and the other whites, to belittle our people. You must go." Then to Jeff Franklin. "And you, traitor, you might have been a great leader of our people, but you are an American now, not African. They have made you an honorary white man, are you not proud?"

"What do you want?" Father Percy asked.

"Power to the people!"

"I see," Courtney said quietly. Everyone looked at her. "You mean one man, one vote, once."

Ifnoka's lip curled in contempt. "Woman!" he sneered. He had nothing else to say to her.

"In other words you intend to bring enough of your Union people into Namibia to overthrow the government here," Adams said carefully.

Ifnoka shrugged. "We might win an election . . . ."

"And you'd nationalize the Station." Adams shook a Camel from a battered pack. "Suppose we gave you the keys this afternoon and pulled out? What would you do? You can't finish Otjiwar, or even operate it."

"We have friends," Ifnoka said. "Good friends."

"The Chinese. I doubt they could finish this place, or would. But suppose they do, what does that do for 'the people'? Besides put them under your thumb. Your 'guided democracy' does a lot of guiding."

"And yours does not? You hold up America as a model for the world?"

Adams shrugged. "I'm holding up nothing. Your point, now it's my turn. First, that lifeblood you see out there. Where did it come from? This Station is in the most desolate spot on earth. Sure, there'll be iron production in a few years, but for now all we use is sunlight, sea water, and power from our reactors. There's not a blasted thing of African origin on those ships and you know it."

Ifnoka shrugged. Courtney stared at Bill Adams. This wasn't like him, he never argued with people. But she saw that Premier Tsandi looked interested. If the whites could make all that wealth from nothing, what might they do with the resources of Rondidi? But he wavered, looked at Adams, then back to Ifnoka, shook his head as if to say that promises were nothing. And Otjiwar was here, here for the taking . . . .

"Let us get to the point," Ifnoka said. "That is the purpose of this conference, to halt the strikes and infiltration, is it not? Well, I can do that for you. My price is a share in the management of the Station. My officers to take control of security here. African People's Union trainees in all supervisory positions. And foodstuffs for disposal as I see fit. In return, you will be permitted to complete this plant and take out enough goods to pay for your investment. But no profits! Nothing for greed!"

Adams smiled thinly. When he spoke it was directly to Ifnoka, but he kept a wary eye on Premier Tsandi. I see, Courtney thought . . . but could he do it?

"Let me make you a solemn promise," Adams said. "Before anyone—anyone at all—takes control of this Station away from us, there's going to be a regrettable nuclear accident. The only thing left of Otjiwar will be a pile of radioactive slag even less useful than the Namib was before we got here."

"Ja." Von Alten nodded vigorously. "So, Mr. Prime Minister Tsandi, you think on that for a while. With no Station, you got all those people came here, others coming through your country to get here, and they got nothing to eat, ja? You think maybe they come looking for you with blood in their eye for sending them here?"

"Whereas, if you'll close your borders and stop this infiltration, Rondidi can benefit quite a lot," Adams finished smoothly. "You've got iron ore in your hills, more than here in Namibia. It'll take a while to develop, but we can get a railroad in there to bring it here."

"Why would you do that?" Tsandi asked. He saw Ifnoka's scowl and winced, but continued to look expectantly at Adams and von Alten.

"For profits, of course," von Alten said. "His Lordship the Bishop got other motives, but us, we want profits. We make you a pretty good deal to get them, too."

Tsandi nodded. This he could understand. But there was Ifnoka's Union group and the coup he was undoubtedly planning in the army . . . .

"Another thing," von Alten snorted. "Seems I got me forty, fifty thousand submachine guns. Some good rifles, too. I wonder, Mr. Prime Minister of Rondidi, if you want some of those guns for your own party people, for your police too, ja?"

"What?" The monosyllable was jerked from Tsandi's lips. He looked fearfully at Ifnoka.

"Ja, we got the guns," von Alten said. "Already in Rondidi we got them. When Mr. Adams says smuggle in guns to Rondidi, me, I do it. I think maybe we organize a coup, only now I see what he really wants, ja?"

Adams smiled tightly. "They can be distributed before either of you gentlemen get back to your capital. By the way, I'm sorry but the airfield's got some problems. Undermined by an aquifer, I understand. Unusable . . ."

"An aquifer?" Father Percy said carefully. He looked out at the barren desert. "I see." He suppressed a chuckle, but it was very loud in the still room.

"All you have to do is name the Cabinet people you want to distribute the guns," Adams said. "We'll see that they get them."

Ifnoka roared and charged out of the room. The door slammed behind him but didn't catch. Courtney went over to close it.

"Well, Mr. Prime Minister?" Adams said. "Of course we'd like your Minister of Trade to have a say in who gets those guns. Good man, that."

"What do you want?" Tsandi demanded. His tone was listless, flat.

"For the guns?" von Alten asked.

"You can't arm Rondidi!" Bloomfort exploded. "What's to keep Tsandi from taking the guns and still getting together with Ifnoka? Using them against Namibia?"

"Oh, he wouldn't do that," Adams said carefully. "Invasion of Namibia's a dream anyway. The Republic of South Africa wouldn't care to see an actual armed invasion of their showpiece descendant. Infiltration's one thing, open war's quite another."

"And who'd develop the iron ore?" Joe Bentley asked.

"Yeah. It does Rondidi no good." Adams stood at the head of the table. His smile was cordial and he spoke warmly to Tsandi, but Courtney saw his pale blue eyes were as cold as ice. "The Station was deliberately put a long way from cities. It won't fall to small arms. And everyone gains from the Station except Ifnoka. His whole power structure's built on poverty and promises. Now we're not in business to eliminate poverty, but there's no way to make a profit without leaving money behind us, and that upsets him. For the Premier of Rondidi, though, the Station's quite a good thing. What's it to be, sir? A chance to put Rondidi into the modern world, or life in Ifnoka's shadow forever?"

"I haven't even that choice," Tsandi said. "He's gone to order the military coup he's been planning for months. With me out of the country it will succeed."

Adams chuckled. "I wonder if Ifnoka's going to be surprised when he finds out somebody's broken the transmitter he brought with him . . . ."

"And the telephone's out, too," Courtney said. She was sure it was.

"Somebody's been jamming the whole Station," Jeff Franklin reported. "Strangest thing . . ."

"But we can get a signal through for our friends," Adams said. "Of course your instructions for distributing the weapons will upset the army. I'd suggest you ask your Minister of Trade to arrest the top Ifnoka people before they cause trouble, right?"

"And your price? Merely closing the borders?" Tsandi asked.

"Yeah, for the guns. But if you want Nuclear General and our combine to invest in Rondidi, you'll have to show enough political stability to convince the others. You heard the meeting."

"So that's why I was there," Tsandi mused. "You make a persuasive case."

Courtney held her breath. It was von Alten as much as Bill, she thought. Profits—Tsandi could understand that motive easily, but he distrusted altruism.

The door burst open. Ifnoka hurried in, his robes askew, a perplexed technician behind him. "What have you done?" he demanded.

Before Adams could answer, Tsandi stood. He looked at Ifnoka with contempt. "What they are doing, Henry Carter, is what you have demanded but never wanted." He pointed through the window to the huge reactors, the tractors, and water pumps. The faint hum of turbines came even to this sound-proofed room. "They are giving power to the people!"



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