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Ribbon-Cutting

Colonial Building Site

Switzerland

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016, 1:35 pm

 

 

      After a little over a year’s construction, the colony was finally complete.  While the builders had cut off months of construction time, several re-designs were made to the above ground structure. Most of the colony was over twelve feet underground.

      Everybody met at the spot that had been the cliff, looking over where the groundbreaking ceremony had been.  Now, however, it was not a cliff.  At the edge, instead of a dip there was a fabricated structure rising up to the sky.  It was amazing.  To keep up the Midas Machine mythology there was gold on much of the structure.  To prevent looting, there was a thick glass over the gold.  The visible bottom of the structure was a perfect circle that met the cliff edge.  The circle had a 500-foot radius.  The circle was gold-covered with thick almost unbreakable glass.  The glass was a newer version of bulletproof glass.  Like a record, the gold was rippled in gigantic rings.  The surface glass, however, was perfectly flat.

      Twenty feet in, from the outer ring, was a tower that had spiral ramps leading to the top.  The ramps wrapped counterclockwise around the tower.  A series of thin pillars coated in platinum, and covered in glass, walled the ramps in.  There were 73 ramps in all. Only one of the ramps reached the very top of the tower.  The ramps formed a maze of sorts.  There was no way to know, unless you marked them, which ramp reached the top.  The ramp lengths were somewhat random.  In the bottom of the 24 shortest ramps were random Roman numerals.  The Roman numerals counted from one to twenty-four.  At the top of all but the highest reaching ramps, there was an inlaid circle of steel.  Around the circle were twelve smaller circles.  During the correct hour, the twelve circles could be used to enter a combination that opened the large circle.  The large circle would allow for a sealed plastic tube, similar to the tube systems used at older bank drive-thrus, some stores, as wells as some warehouses.  Once unlocked and opened, a sealed tube could be placed inside.  The tube would have to include an identifying barcode that gave an encrypted ID of the sender.  The pipes all led to the center of the tower and then joined into one pipe.  Before the tube could be sent past the meeting point, it had to be scanned.  If the barcode was invalid or missing, it would be funneled to a secure container where it could be examined carefully.  All properly coded tubes would be sent directly into the heart of the colony.

      The tower was shaped like a rocket and ended at a point.  The very top was directly above the longest of the ramps.  On the inner wall of the ramps were timelines of various countries and societies.  All of the timelines started the same, with the first homo sapiens.  Each timeline branched off with continents, then countries, tracing people either to a dead-end or to the one tunnel that reached to the present, which was Swiss.  The timeline was shown with murals and art of each country and society.  All the words were in a language that was common to the country. For Switzerland, it was German. 

      The murals were mostly made by the colonists.  A few portions were done by contract artists.  All of the colonists helped with it.  Even Spencer posed for some drawings.  The murals were all created with software, which made translations trivial.  Then they used a paint machine to transfer it from the computer onto the walls.

      All of the hired help that worked on the construction had seen so little of the entire project; they would never realize the true intention.  Near the end, it had been mostly hired help working, so only Samuel and Aaron knew what the colony actually would look like. 

      Around the tower has a huge red ribbon that covered all the ramp entrances.  A temporary shaft was also on the cliffside that would allow the colonists to import supplies.  When they were finished, they would seal the colony at the bottom of the shaft then replace the shaft with dirt, so the only way in would be through the time machines’ launch bay.

      Everybody was dressed up for the event.  The men were in suits and ties.  The women were in dark dresses and heels, despite the soft earth near the tower. 

      Samuel and Aaron were both at the ribbon.  Samuel had a big pair of scissors.  Samuel handed the scissors to Aaron saying, “The colony is complete.”

      Aaron replied as he took the scissors, “Thank you, Friend, for all your hard work to make such a great place in so little time.  Long after we descend to live in the colony the world will think all the time we spent building was used strictly on the tower, preserving the truth of our secret.  I also want to thank all of you for doing so much to make this dream a reality.”

      Aaron cut the ribbon with a big exuberant gesture and then waved for the colonists to come and see.  The kids all ran directly to the tower and started to climb.  The parents, even the women struggling in their heels, walked quickly to the center.  Most of them spread out and went up separate tunnels.  One of the Lyles’ boys was the first to find the Swiss tunnel and reach the top. 

      Everybody spent hours exploring the tower.  The parents and teens all stopped from time to time to compliment Samuel on a job well done.

      Inside the colony were 10 homes.  A home had a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen, and five bedrooms. Only six homes were used in the beginning as the teens still lived with their parents, including Carmen.  It was expected, however, that the children would move into the other homes when they got older.  It was almost expected that Keith and Carmen would be married within a few years and get one of the homes. Meanwhile, Kara and Mike had become close, and it was possible they would take a house.

      Samuel had built the sections like pieces of a pie, so that they could easily expand down or out later. Because the housing section was triangular, each home had to be shaped different.  The home closest to the center of the colony was long and thin.  At the opposite end, however, the home was short but thick. 

      Because of the circular shape of the colony, extra space was left in the housing section at the edge of the colony.  The space was divided into four sections.  The smallest of the sections was a shooting range.  It had been designed before the universal adoption of builders had taken place.  They supposed it would still be a great way to train with builders.  On the opposite side of the range and slightly bigger in area was a study/library.  It was to be filled with books that all of the colonists thought would be important in the future.  While electronic books, or e-books, had gained popularity over the years, most people still preferred the old-fashioned variety.  Southeast from the library was the school.  The school had eight classrooms, which was expected to be far more then necessary.  One of the rooms was designed specifically as an art room.  It would quickly be furnished with art desks as well as mechanical drawing tools. Another room was designed for music lessons, although they were unsure it would ever be used.  The room had a floor that rose in segments like a stadium. Besides the rooms, there was also a small theater. 

      The largest of the four sections was made into a recreation center and gym.  It included a pool, a basketball court, as well as an Astroturf field to be used for football, soccer, baseball and kickball.  On the outer rim of the gym area was a rubber six-lane running track.  The recreation center also included an area for arcade games to be added, a small roller-rink and a multi-story laser tag arena.

      In the very center of the colony was the command center.  The command center included a clinic.  Also in the command center were the environmental controls and monitors for the colony.  There were also computers linked through the tower to radio waves as well as a satellite transmitter.  The computers connected to the outside were designed to record all the information received.  It was expected that at least 10 gigabytes of data would be recorded daily.  This was a small amount of data in comparison to how much the hard-drives could hold.  Backups would be made to the newest version of double-sided optical disk.  Several meeting rooms were set up in the command center.  Most included a round table complete with a computer center.  The communications system was also controlled through the command center.  Every portion of the colony, including the homes, had overhead speakers.  There were also videophone panels throughout the colony that allowed a person to speak to the command center.  These videophones could also be used to call any other videophone in the colony.  Video surveillance for the entire colony could be accessed in the command center.  The only area without surveillance was the housing section.

      Electricity production was originally planned to be a mixture of several possibilities including water and heat based solutions.  Even a nuclear reactor, which was easy to assemble in 2016, was considered.  Finally, it was decided that builders would be used. Jared and Carmen came up with a device based on builder technology to charge a battery system.  The entire colony was run off the industrial batteries.  They held a week’s energy reserve in case the builder generator broke down.  Heat was produced by electric boilers.  Water was recycled and if needed could pull from the swamp section after being filtered.  The boilers, batteries and generators were all kept in the command center.

      Southeast of the housing section was the ocean section.  A beach followed the wall between the ocean section and the housing section.  The ocean stretched from the beach to the far walls.  At this point, the ocean only had water, salt water.  The plants and animals would be added later.  The ocean bottom was the second lowest point in the colony.  It went down 350 feet.  Below the water was sand and rocks.  The sand and rocks were above a layer of cement.  The ceiling was an artificial sky.  It even had an artificial sun, giving almost as much light as the real sun would.  During the night, it had stars and sometimes the moon.  There were also randomly generated cloud patterns throughout the night and day.

      Northeast of the ocean section was a swamp section.  The two sections had a wall between them, but the wall was open in places allowing evaporated water to travel between the two.  This was one of the smaller sections.  It was made of freshwater and included a small pond.  Above the concrete floor was thick dirt and mud.  Above the mud was water.  In some places, the mud and dirt went above the water. 

      North of the swamp section was a desert section.  These two sections were separated by a thick wall.  The desert was all dirt and rock.  The southern portion of the desert was almost sixty feet higher than the rest of the section. 

      Northwest of the desert was the savannah section.  The two sections were separated by a thin wall that had areas open to allow air and moisture to flow between the two sections.  The savannah provided a hydrological transition between the desert and forest.  It was made up of thicker dirt that would allow plants and grasses to grow.

      West of the savannah was the forest.  The forest was a mixture of rainforest and the more traditional dry forest.  Both sections would be thick with vegetation.  The rainforest would provide more dense vegetation.

      Southwest of the forest section was the final main section.  It was split into two subsections.  One area was a set of large planting fields.  Closer to the command center was a ranch area for domesticated farm animals like cows and sheep.  Inside of the ranch section, on the command center wall, was the veterinary hospital.

      The lung was built in a small section outside of the colony proper.  The lung was a thirty-ton aluminum disk in a 400-foot well.  The bottom of the well was the lowest point of the entire colony.  Even though the lung was physically separated from the rest of the colony, it had shafts that led to all the sections of the colony.  As the air pressure in the colony would expand or contract, the lung would move to compensate. Monitors were connected to the lung that sent data to the command center.  The lung could only be reached by a thin walkway that started between the walls that separated the rain forest from the fields and ranch.

      The time machine hangar was attached to the outside of the colony proper.  It could be entered from both the fields and the library.  The colony’s thick 6 foot concrete wall, which was far thicker than the required 22 inches to prevent nuclear radiation exposure, was between the two sections and the time machine hangar.  The door was made of 7-inch thick steel.  It could only be opened from inside the colony.  A videophone was setup in the hangar to contact the command center.  Three launch bays came out of the hangar.  The launch bays were 800 feet long, 300 more than required for a launch.  The ends of the bays were connected by halls.  The halls between the two southernmost bays had the exit from the colony.  The exit had the same type of door as between the colony and hangar; however this door did allow entry from the outside. 

      Iris scanning and a typed password were used to allow entry into the colony.  The door’s security system was fed by the command center computer.  In the command center iris scans could be created and passwords set.  However, all of the information entered into the security system was hidden and could only be accessed if four colonists agreed to check the system. 

      The entrance was hidden in the cave system, as planned.  The cave had a small population of bats.  The cave system was somewhat easy to navigate.  The cave’s exit was on a cliffside. With some maneuvering a person would have to climb to a side and then up to the top.  To get in, the opposite was required.

      When the exploration of the tower was completed, the colonists took a break to eat dinner.  A few of the kids wanted to continue, but everybody was hungry.  After a quick light Italian meal, the colonists entered the colony itself through the temporary entrance, which led to the command center. 

      From the command center they went to the housing section.  Throughout the tour, Carmen and Keith held hands.  Everybody loved the homes.  They were far larger than they had expected.  In fact, except for the Hunt family, the homes were larger than what the families had previously lived in and given up for this far-flung idea. Seeing the homes made it finally seem real.  Everybody seemed to ride an emotional roller coaster through the housing section.  They were excited the homes were so big but regretted how much they were giving up- how much they already had given up.  Everybody but Aaron, Jared, and Carmen seemed to wonder if it really would be worth it.

      The homes were mostly empty but would surely be the first areas to be filled.  Everybody had grown tired of the tents; even the kids had lost interest although it had been so novel at first.  Tara was the only one who had really enjoyed the tent.  To her it was like living with a completely new perspective.  She had always embraced the differences she had from the average person who lived on land.  She loved living on her boat, not just because the ocean was her life, but also because it allowed a separation from her and the world.  If her dock neighbors annoyed her, she could always go out to the harbor or even to the ocean.  Tara was glad to move on though.  This adventure had more promise than the tent and boat combined. 

      Some parents quickly found themselves arguing over who would get which home.  Aaron cared, but he resigned himself to let the others have their decisions in this matter.  The Stefanos’ and Wilsons’ both wanted the home closest to the command center.  However, Zoe trumped both families by saying in case of medical emergency she would need to be close to the command center where the clinic was.  After some arguing, Yuri flipped a coin for the second home from the command center. 

      The coin was the euro, worth one EUR.  The euro was adopted in Switzerland in 2010.  The country specific side was a picture of St. Nicholas von Flüe.  The colonists had taken several trips for supplies, special occasions, and just for fun during their time building the colony so it was natural for most of them to have euro coins on them.  Oliver called heads and won, so the Wilson family got the second home from the command center and the Stefano family got the third from the command center with no further contention.

      Tara wanted the home farthest from the command center, which she got with no opposition.  Michelle and Jared did not care where they went, but Carmen said the fourth from the command center would be good because it placed them almost in the middle, so they took it. 

      That only left the Hunt family to decide.  Sarah and Aaron decided on the seventh without letting Keith and Kara argue about it.  Both of them would be out and in their own homes within a few years.

      After going through the housing section, they went to the library.  The library had a great layout, and everybody got excited about the books that would be added.  There was even a children’s section complete with a children’s museum-style exploration area.  It had crawling places, slides, and a fake tree with a tree house.

      As the older children and adults continued to explore the library and study, the younger ones, including Spencer, played in the children’s area.  The study was a more contemplative area.  There were large desks spread out for people to work.  When they finished exploring, they got the kids and continued to the school.

      They quickly explored the school then went on to the gym and recreation center.  The adults were the only ones that seemed to appreciate the gym, but the kids loved the laser tag arena.  In the arcade, there were cries for favorite games.  Most of them were older games like ‘Soul Caliber’ and ‘Time Crises’ but some were really old like ‘Centipede’ and ‘Pac-man’.

      After the recreation center and gym, they went to the range, where they unanimously agreed the target style was outdated for builders.  Samuel shrugged because it had been complete before the incident with the Chinese.

      In the ocean area most of them took off their shoes, including all the women who were still in heels, and walked (or ran in many cases) across the beach toward the command center.  They went through the command center to get to the swamp.  They spent less than a handful of minutes there, as nobody wanted to get muddy.  They continued to the desert that, except for some rocks, looked like the giant sand lots through which people drive ATVs and bikes.  Of course, you would never see your suburban and urban terrorizing SUV make it more than a few feet through this thick sand.

      Next, they explored the Savannah, then the forest, then the lung.  They were all awed by the size and look of the lung.  At this point, the colony was unpressurized, so the disk was at the very bottom of the well.

      After the lung, they entered the harvesting fields.  The fields were separated to allow for separate crops like in the Midwestern United States.  The fields were extremely fertile, and smelly.  It was assumed they would need the richest dirt they could get.  The domesticated animals’ waste would be used to continue to fertilize it, but those animals can only produce so much.  In addition, there was the possibility some of the animals would not be able to survive in the colony for numerous reasons including a localized flu or an incorrect oxygen mixture in the air.

      After the fields, they quickly visited the ranch, which actually had wooden fences to separate the animals.  While the fences were inefficient compared to metal fences, they had an appealing look that made them well worth the loss of efficiency.  They spent barely a minute in the veterinary clinic.  It had been built almost exactly to Cleo’s specifications, so she had no wish to stay and explore, especially since the kids were getting restless and the tour seemed to have no end.

      From the veterinary clinic, they crossed back through the ranch and fields and through the giant steel door into the time machine bay.  They spent some time in the bay checking how secure it seemed.  Then they walked down one of the launch bays.  When they reached the end Jared said, “This really is longer than we need it.  Five hundred feet is exactly the distance needed.  I can’t imagine it ever being off by this much,” he looked down the corridor to estimate the length, “almost 350 feet more. People will have to roll their crafts to the end before they leave, which I bet would be quite a work-out!”

      Samuel replied, “It’s 300 feet over, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Besides, we need to go that far to reach the cave section.”

      At this, Todd, Tara’s son, pleaded, “Can we see the caves, please?”

      So they continued into the caves.  The climb up was safe for everybody, but the parents carried the smallest children just in case.

      The following days everybody worked on moving in and setting up the colony.  As comfortable as the tents had been, they were glad to move into their new solid and roomy homes.  Within a week, the family tents were empty. 

      Once the tents were vacated and the homes filled, Michelle started setting up the school.  Everybody helped with the gym, library and recreation center.  Aaron quickly got the shooting range set up.  Zoe moved everything out of the hospital tent into the clinic. Cleo set up the vet clinic. 

      The biological sections were more difficult and time consuming.  First, they worked on the pseudo-natural sections one at a time, since they were to be self-sufficient ecosystems. Aaron and Samuel dealt with the logistics issues, while Cleo decided on the animals, and Tara decided on the plants based on the lists they had compiled.  Keith also helped with his background research in biospheres.  With Tara's background in marine biology, the ocean was quickly completed. 

      The ocean was filled with several saltwater fish, which included everything from clown fish all the way up to sharks and rays.  Some other marine animals included were octopuses, squids, clams, crabs, lobsters, mussels, barnacles, starfish, sea anemones, turtles, and lots and lots of hard as well as soft coral.  There was a long debate about having snakes.  Eventually it was decided to keep the number of animals dangerous to humans as low as possible.

      Various plants were added not only to feed the herbivore and omnivore ocean animals but also to produce oxygen.  The algae alone were predicted to create enough oxygen for the entire colony.

      The swamp section was filled with a variety of fresh water animals including trout, salmon, bass, a variety of turtles, worms, squirrels, chipmunks, cranes, Canadian geese, beavers and a variety of frogs.  The beavers were vaccinated against giardia before being added.  Swans were briefly proposed but rejected because of their territorial nature.  No snakes were allowed, again, either.

      Several insects were also placed in the swamp section including water striders, ladybugs, and butterflies. No mosquitoes were allowed.  Keith wanted spiders, but he lost the battle for three reasons.  First, most of the insects spiders feed on they would not have.  Second, all spiders are venomous, though most spider venom is either nontoxic to humans or the spiders fangs are too small to pierce human flesh, but considering how long they would be there and how quickly spiders reproduce genetic mutation was too dangerous.  Finally, and most importantly, most of the colonists had mild arachnophobia!

      The plants in the swamp area were far more varied.  They included a variety of grasses, and flowers including violets as well as water lilies.  On a larger scale, several types of trees were planted including elms, maples, oaks, longleaf pines, hickories, and hollies.

      The desert was far plainer than the swamp.  Snakes and scorpions were both rejected.  Gila monsters were rejected because of their venom.  The thorny devil was also proposed, but since it mostly ate termites and ants, neither of which anybody wanted, it had to be rejected.  Vultures were suggested by Aaron as a novelty, but rejected because of the lack of food that would be available to it.  Moreover, the birds could grow to half the size of humans, which would make them tough to deal with! Bats were included.  Enough moths were put into the environment to allow the bats to feed.  Jerboas, small mouse-like rodents, were added, but it seemed doubtful there would be enough food for them to survive.  They wanted to add foxes, so first they added sand rats.  Larks, roadrunners and wrens were both added with no opposition.  Addaxes, a goat-like mammal, were added with no opposition.

      For plants, obviously several types of cacti were added.  Joshua trees, desert spoons, ocotillo, dragon trees, yuccas, and many aloe trees were planted.

      The savanna included African buffalo.  Everybody wanted warthogs, but after the colonists found some, they realized they would be far too aggressive.  Antelopes were ruled out for the same reason, as were cheetahs, elephants, hippos, wildebeests or gnus, rhinoceros, leopards, lions, and hyenas.  After a huge list of rejected animals, they got to the giraffe, which they all agreed they wanted.  Baboons were aggressive, so the group almost rejected them, until they saw they were mostly aggressive to each other.  Ostriches were added because, well they are cool, and if they had problems with the domestic animals, they could provide a meat and egg source. Zebras from Kenya were added though most people worried there would not be enough grass. 

      Since the forests were a mixture, some of the animals from the dessert and savannah were allowed in. Cleo demanded tapirs be included because they were so endangered.  This, of course, made getting some very difficult.  Finally, when the colonists explained they were creating a zoo, they were able to convince some Brazilians to ship them.  Orangutans and gorillas were both added.  Everybody wanted toucans, so they were added.  Okapi, a relative of the zebra, proved even more difficult to obtain.  Their rareness made Cleo more determined to get them.  This time they were able to get them from an under-funded zoo in the US that was on the verge of closing.  After checking them for SARS, palm civets were added.  Vampire bats were not added, since they would feed on mammal blood, which seemed rather disgusting, but dawn bats were added.

      Here some of the more pleasant plants were placed, like sugar cane, palm trees, fig trees, and banana trees.  Rubber trees, bamboo, vanilla orchids, ginger, pepper, rattan, and ebony were also planted.  Ferns, durian trees, kapok trees, tualang trees, orchids, mistletoe, lichen, lianas, and mushrooms were added as well.  The most interesting of the plants added were the pitcher plant and Venus flytrap. Since there was little that the two carnivorous plants could feed on, the colonists doubted they would do well.

      Some more mainstream forest animals were also placed in the forest section including rabbits, gross, raccoons, wild turkeys, deer, and moose.  Bears were sadly rejected. 

      The ranch section included farm animals.  While everybody wanted horses, there was no practical use for them, so they were not going to be included.  Then Cleo said, “What if the world loses the ability to use cars?”  So horses were added.  Cows, checked for mad cow disease, were added.  Sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and goats were all added.  They wanted to add ducks, but had no water for them.  A small duck pond was added by Samuel, and then the ducks were purchased.  The pigs decided they liked the duck pond too, so the pond was expanded.  The pond also became the main drinking source for the animals.

      The most important plant in the ranch area was the switchgrass for the animals to graze.  In addition, fruit trees were planted including apple trees, orange trees, pear trees, cherry trees, plum trees and apricot trees.

      The planting fields were far larger than the ranch area.  The ranch was only separated from the fields by white wooden fences.  The horses could go over the fences but rarely did.  The ducks could go over and under the fences, which nobody minded.  None of the other animals could easily get out of the ranch area, although a farm-style prison break did occur from time to time.

            In the fields, almost every crop imaginable was planted.  Corn was the favorite crop; even the prison-break animals liked it.  Wheat, soybeans, cotton, rice, potatoes, carrots, squash, turnips, beets, pumpkins, cabbage, broccoli, artichokes and asparagus were also bought.  An area was also used for grapevines, strawberries and blueberries.

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

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