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Platinum

Colonial Building Site

Switzerland

Saturday, October 31st, 2015, 9:30 am

 

 

      The first breakfast with all but the Coleman family included eggs, bacon, toast, muffins and the kids’ favorite, cereal.  The favorite cereal for the colony was Mellow Crunch. Mellow Crunch was a mixture of tiny marshmallow like objects with crunchy red strawberry flavored balls. 

      Most of the party could eat anything.  There were no special allergies.  Cleo, however, was a vegan, so getting her nutritious meals within her diet was a bit complicated at first. Once they had enough scanned, she was all set.  At one point Jared asked, “Why can’t you eat meat made by builders since technically no animal is killed to make the copy?”

      In reply, she said, “Maybe you’re right, but an animal did die to be used for the scan!”

      Jared said, “OK, fine, but you do realize that plants are living, too?  You have to kill to survive!”

      She shrugged, “Plants may be alive, but they have no feelings.”

      Jared said, “That’s not true.  I bet Tara can back me up on this.  Plants have been proven to have feelings.  In fact, broccoli has a highly developed nervous system and can feel pain!  Also, plants have been proven to grow better when given verbal positive attention.” 

      “I suspect those plants grew better because they had crazy owners that cared so much for them they talked to them!  As for broccoli, I’m not sure I believe you.”

      “Fine, I’ll prove it,” he said and then rushed off to get Tara.

      When he got back with Tara he said, “Tara, isn’t it true broccoli can feel pain?”

      “Well, plants do have a nervous system.  As an example, the Venus flytrap closes its leaves on animal or insect prey to eat.  I don’t think they understand the consequences of life and death as we do.  Who knows though, we still know so little about plants in comparison to animals.”

      Cleo said, “Well, that’s not very decisive!  Tara, do you eat plants and animals?”

      Tara nodded, “Yes, of course.  We can’t live without feeding on something living.  I’m actually more willing to believe an animal like a chicken or cow is inferior to a plant like a redwood that can grow to over two hundred feet tall.  Some plants live over 3,000 years, and some plants survive in harsh climates, including the North Pole!  No animal that we know of is that versatile and lasting.”

      Cleo said, “Plants have no brains and no emotions!”

      Tara laughed, “Please, do you think your cows and chickens have intelligence of any importance?  What can a cow or chicken do to make an impression on the earth?  A tree provides a place for insects, birds, small mammals, humans, and microscopic organisms to grow. It also allows other plants to grow, like lichen.  The best part is this natural housing lasts longer than any domestic animal.  Even a turtle’s life is short in comparison to trees.”  They argued awhile longer but eventually dropped it, more to keep peace with each other than because of anybody winning.

      With a wry smile Jared said, “I didn’t eat beef for a few years!”

      “What,” Cleo exclaimed.  “All that and you didn’t eat beef for years!”

      Jared nodded.  “Do you remember the fiasco around 2003 where the EU refused to buy US beef?”

      “No.”

      “They stopped buying beef because in the US it was enhanced with hormones, mostly with natural hormones including the bovine versions of estrogen and testosterone.”

      “Yuck.”

      “The ranchers used it to increase the amount of meat on a cow without having to feed it more.  Well, it turns out that they did studies in Europe and found out that it was causing cancer in humans.  It also caused children to grow faster and bigger.  Girls were developing at earlier ages because of it!”

      “That’s horrible!”

      “Exactly, there was no way to test for it, so they had no way to only buy beef that was not hormone enhanced.  Instead of banning just the bad beef, they banned it all.  The World Trade Organization fought against the ban and it became a huge mess.  All this time I’m thinking, ‘I eat beef!  I like beef!  I live in the US!’  So I didn’t eat beef until 2011 when the ranchers finally stopped using hormones on the cattle.”

      “So you were kind of a vegetarian.”

      Jared shook his head, “Nah, I ate chicken, pork, and fish.  Do you eat fish?”

      “NO!”

      “Some vegetarians do!”

      “I’m vegan.  Those people aren’t even vegetarians!”

      Jared shrugged, “Anyway, I hated eating those years.  I’ve never liked chicken; it has no flavor.  Most of the meat I ate was from pork.  My favorite meat has always been beef.  My favorite food is Mexican: tacos, fajitas, tostadas, enchiladas, taco salads, burritos, and of course chimichangas.”

      Cleo said, “Well, you certainly are stubborn.”

      Michelle nodded, “You’re so right!”

      As he blushed, Jared said, “Hey!”

      “Well, it’s true!  Remember how back when you shaved you always used metal non-electric razors!”

      Jared blushed, because he knew what was coming.

      “There had been some research connecting cancer with electric devices including electric razors, but it was never conclusive.”

      “Here we go again,” said Jared.

      “Come on, how many people do you know that use electric razors?  Have any of them got cancer?  Your smoking uncle’s lung cancer excluded.”

      “Hey, whatever, you want to risk your life . . . go for it.”

      “Oh, come on, Honey; give them the full excuse.”

      “No, I’ll let you do it.  You seem fairly happy explaining all of my little precautions in life.”

      “Phobias, Dear, they’re phobias.”

      “Whatever.”

      “Anyway, he used to say he likes the feel of safety razors better, something about ‘they feel dangerous.’”

      “Well, who doesn’t like a little danger?”

      Cleo said, “From the sound of it, YOU, Mr. No Beef And No Electric Razors Because They Might Cause Cancer.”

      Jared turned to Michelle, “Anything else you’d like to embarrass me with now?”

      Michelle gave him a sympathetic hug then said, “No, that will do for now!”

      Near the kitchen tent, a set of round tables were set up.  The tables were plain metal tables, that each had four legs.  The legs met in the center, a foot off the ground they splayed in opposite direction one foot from the tabletop.  The top of each leg met the table near the edge of the table.  The tables were spray painted white.  Each table had room for about four or five people to sit at.  Each table was surrounded by four brown metal fold-up chairs. 

      Most of the families were still sitting as families, though some sat with new friends.  After they finished eating, Aaron stopped at the table where Carmen, Keith, Michelle and Jared had been eating.

      “We need to get working on the platinum today.”

      Jared said, “OK, where should we build it?”

      Aaron replied, “We should use one of the empty tents, just in case we are being watched.  This area is open, so we should try to use the builders in enclosed areas.”

      Carmen announced, “I'll get the builders.”

      Jared declared, “I'll get a computer.”

      Aaron said, “OK, I'll help with the computer.”

      They all walked to the supply tent that the computers and builders were moved to.  The computer was small. It was about three inches tall, five inches wide, and seven inches deep.  It weighed twelve pounds.  Jared got the computer.  The monitor was bigger than the computer.  The monitor was a 21-inch flat screen.  The screen was less than half an inch thick.  The base was a bulky round stand.  The monitor only had a wire for power.  The signal from the computer was received through an encrypted radio frequency.  Aaron took the monitor, which weighed about ten pounds.

      They brought all the equipment into one of the spare tents.  Each tent had a power strip on a stand in case of rain.  The tents were very large.  They were thirty feet long, twenty feet wide, and ten feet high.  They had two chambers.  One chamber was five feet by twenty feet and the main chamber was 25 feet by twenty feet.  Some of the families used the small chamber as a bedroom.  All the families used it for privacy to change or be away from the children if there was a storm.  The tents were made of a thick white waterproof canvas.  Light passed through the canvas, but it was hard to see shadows through the canvas.  The front door and the door to the small chamber could be tied open.  The occupied tents had cots to sleep on.  Each tent also came with a brown metal table that was four feet high, two feet wide, and six feet long.  The tents were illuminated at night by built-in light strips.  They were about as strong as fluorescent lights.  However, they were far smaller, more energy efficient, and able to be bent and even folded.  The lights also gave off no heat.

      Once the three of them were in the tent, they set up the computer and monitor.  Carmen checked the wireless connection between the builders and the computer.  When they were all set up Jared said, “OK, here’s what we have programmed for a platinum bar.”

      He pointed the builder towards the ground and had it create a bar.  Almost instantly, the bar appeared on the ground.  Aaron did not know they had made changes to increase the speed and was stunned when he said, “Wow that was quick.  Why was it so quick?”

      Jared replied, “We made some changes.  Carmen optimized the code and added a physics system.  I optimized the hardware.”

      “You both did a great job.  I’m impressed.”

      “Thanks,” said Jared.

      “Thank you,” said Carmen.

      Aaron picked up the bar and tapped it, then said, “It looks good to me.”

      Carmen looked at it.  “Are you sure it won’t be suspicious?”

      Aaron said, “Ha, they may play neutral, but we’re saving their butts with this.  In fact, they’ll be richer, especially when gold prices slowly climb back up.”

      Jared countered, “They might never reach their last peak again.”

      Aaron shrugged, “It’s better than nothing.  I bet the US will end up the worst off, unless some countries try selling while it’s undervalued.”

      Carmen said, “But it’s not undervalued.  It’s just metal.  We can make more, and someday somebody else will be able to make more, too.  It’s inevitable.”

       “It could be a long time before builders are invented . . . again.  Gold is valuable for its use as jewelry but also its use in electronics.”

      Jared pointed out, “It’s possible that like diamonds, gold will become less popular for jewelry.  In fact, maybe platinum will replace it!”

      Aaron said, “Maybe, but remember that diamonds where a symbol of timelessness.  When artificially made perfect diamonds were first made, it showed that diamonds weren’t timeless, so they were used less by couples.  Really it doesn’t matter though; we need to get to work.”

      Jared asked, “So do you like this bar?  Should we make more like this?”

      “Yes and yes.  We need 7,686 tonnes, but let’s make it an even 7,700.”

      Jared thought for a moment, “OK, that’s about 16 million pounds of platinum.  I don’t think we have room for 16 million pounds of platinum in this tent!  Let me think.  7,700 tonnes means 7,700,000 kg of platinum.  The density of platinum is 21,450 kilograms per cubic meter.  That means if we take 7,700,000 and divide it by 21,450 we get about 360 cubic meters or 12,677 cubic feet.  We’re only going to be able to fit about one percent of the total in this tent.”

      Aaron made a disgusted face by lifting the side of his lip.  “So it will take us 100 times to make it . . . if we use the tent.”

      Jared and Carmen nodded.

      Aaron said, “Fudge, that’s going to take forever!”

      They thought for a while. Carmen sat impatiently on the ground looking at the tent and wondering how they would even get the platinum out.  As she looked at the structure she realized, except for the center poles, only the walls touched the ground.  They touched the ground with solid thin poles running along them.  The tent could be moved.

      Carmen said, “I have it.  We can make 770 tonnes inside the tent then move it and repeat until we get all 7,700!  We can even do it two at a time with the other empty tent.  We have more than enough builders.”

      Jared looked at Aaron, “Do we have 100 empty places we can move the tent to?”

      Aaron thought for a minute then said, “Yes.”  They all agreed.  Then Aaron said, “OK, I’ll get some help. You both clean out the tents and get ready.”

      Aaron left and quickly got Keith.  Carmen and Jared emptied the tents.  A few minutes later Aaron had Oliver Wilson, the ‘hacker,’ and his wife Emma.  Emma had long curly black hair that was held up with a fancy hairclip.  She was five feet tall and had brown eyes. Emma was wearing a jean jumper over a white turtleneck shirt.  She also had on white sox and high-tops. 

      Aaron had also found Cleo and Yuri Stefano.  Aaron said, “This is all the people I could find.  I think four on a tent will do.”

            Everybody got into the first tent.  Jared and Carmen started filling it with platinum.  When they hit 770 tonnes, the bars were stacked to the roof, and the people barely fit inside the tent.

      Keith joked, “You know, with this much platinum we could buy an island and live like kings.”

      In a serious tone, Aaron said, “OK, let's try to move the tent.”

      Emma asked, “Isn't it going to seem odd that we just have this big stack of platinum bars?”

      “Maybe,” replied Aaron.

      Carmen said, “If you’re worried people are watching, won't it be obvious as we move the tents and leave deposits that we are making platinum?”

      Jared said, “No, not really. Obvious to us because we know how it can be done, not obvious to an observer. Somebody spying would think of it like a magic trick.  They would think that we weren’t creating it but somehow hiding it.”

      Aaron said, “Now let’s get 4 people, one at each corner, and see if we can move the tent.”

      Aaron, Keith, Cleo and Yuri all took a side.  First, they tried lifting it on all sides, but the bars were too high for them to just walk in a direction.  Then they tried tipping it with the four of them on one side, but again the stack was in the way.  Finally, Keith got two chairs and said, “OK, let’s try it again like the first time. This time the people on one side will stand on the chairs and then try to tip the tent forward.”

      Keith and Aaron got on the side with the chairs while Cleo and Yuri were on the opposite side.  They lifted the tent, and then Keith and Aaron got on the chairs.  Keith was a few inches shorter than his father, but still growing, and could not reach as high.  They reached up with the tent, but there were still some bars in the way.

      Keith said to his father, “Let’s toss it up and over!”

      Aaron said to Yuri and Cleo, “Can you two handle that?”  They nodded.  Aaron said, “On three, one . . . two . . . three.”  Keith and Aaron tossed the tent forward, and it cleared the platinum and fell forward onto the ground. 

      After Aaron and Keith got down, Aaron said, “Well, does everybody know what to do now?”  Everybody nodded, “Good, let’s get to it.”

      Jared, Yuri, Cleo and Keith worked in one tent while Aaron, Carmen, Emma and Oliver worked in the other. The work was mind-numbingly slow.  They quickly used up the area they were in and had to move to another clearing.  Aaron’s group found a rhythm and quickly got ahead of Jared’s group.  After Aaron’s group hit 50, he went to see how the other group was doing.  The other group was only at 42, so Aaron said his group would do four more.  They almost finished the last four at the same time.  The two groups got back together, and Aaron said, “Perfect.  Good job everybody. I’ll call the Swiss and hopefully they’ll get this platinum out of our way!”

            Some of the people laughed at his remark.  They all went their separate ways except for Keith, Carmen and Jared who packed up the computers and builders.  Once they were stored away, with the help of Aaron, they moved the tents to a less noticeable place.

 

****

 

            Aaron used his sat-phone to call Lukas Schultheiss.  After several rings Lukas finally answered.  When Lukas picked up he said, “Guten morgen, min name ist Lukas Schultheiss.”

            “Lukas, this is Aaron Hunt.”

            “Ja, The Gold Man,” said Lukas.

            Aaron thought to himself, ‘If you say so, Pal’ but instead said, “Yes, that’s me.”  Then Aaron thought, ‘I’m all covered with gold.  In fact I’m a wee little leprechaun.’ Aaron continued, “We have the platinum ready here at our construction site.”

            “Good!  I send trucks now to you.”

            “Make sure you bring enough.  You could easily fill 50 tractor trailers with all this platinum.”

            “Ja, I will send enough.”

            “Sounds good, I’ll talk to you later.”

            “Danke, Auf Wiedersehen.”

            “Bye!”

            An hour later, Lukas arrived with the trucks.  They were huge trucks and had to come in one at a time.  Aaron stopped Lukas and said, “Before you take the platinum I want another document signed saying you received it.”

            Lukas paused for a moment then went to his car.  He quickly wrote up a document in German and signed it.  Lukas said, “You have to translate.  I am not good with English and need to write in German.”

            Aaron took out a PDA and scanned the data, then translated it.  It had all that Aaron wanted, so he said, “You may proceed.”

            They quickly found an obstacle.  Nobody had brought loading equipment.  Lukas had assumed Aaron would have loading equipment, so none of the trucks were equipped.  Lukas sent a truck to get the equipment.  Half an hour later, they had all they needed to start loading, but because the platinum was flat on the ground, without a pallet, they had trouble getting it off the ground.  The machine they had was like a forklift, but instead of a fork, it had a long flat surface.  When they tried to take the platinum from the bottom, they took dirt and grass with it.  When they tried to take from the second row, they had to manually move the bottom row into the trucks.  In addition, it endangered the platinum.  The truckers decided to just scoop from the bottom and take dirt and grass.  It took several loads with the forklift to pack a pile into a truck.

            As the first truck was filled, Lukas asked Aaron, “What are you building?”

            Aaron said, “A home of sorts.  It’ll be a spectacular home, the first and only of its kind.  I’m sure you’ll see it in a few years from now when its finished.”

      Lukas said, “How did you get platinum unloaded here?”

      At first, Aaron wanted to make up a story about it being delivered the same way it was being taken, right off trucks.  Since the Swiss might be spying and would know it was a lie, he said, “Well, let’s just say I have connections.”

            With that, the discussion was dropped.  Several hours later the trucks were all loaded full of platinum and they drove off to the treasury where they planned to unload the platinum.  Lukas parted by saying, “Danke.”

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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