De duivel schijt altijd op de grootste hoop

Dutch Proverb

There was little natural light coming through the 3 cm thick windows in Bente von Veere's apartment. This habitable part of the Gamma Project was directly exposed to the raging North Sea, and the glass front in Bente's living room was continuously covered in salty spray. Fortunately this didn't ruin her views over the water, as thanks to the nanostructure on the surface of her windows the salty water would harmlessly drain off without leaving any residual crusts that might spoil the vista. The Gamma Project was the Netherlands most audacious engineering project. Now 20 years old it was this exposed nation's attempt to stave off Bangladesh's fate and completely vanish under the waves off an ever rising ocean. With financial and engineering assistance from its neighbours Germany and Belgium the Gamma Project almost completely seperated the fractured dutch coast from the murderous seas, protecting this small overcrowded nation and preventing an exodus of 20 million people into the neighbouring countries. Most Germans were convinced that the only reason that the Gamma Project was build with such speed and alacricity was to avoid the Dutch to become another ethnic minority in Germany. After the first phase of the build it became obvious that this megastructure was actually a good place to house humans, and these ultramodern apartments within the actual seawall became soon the most sought after real estate in Western Europe. Covered with photovoltaic foil and with build-in tidal power plants within the foundations that were let into the sea floor, the Gamma Project easily supplied the rest of the Netherlands and half of Belgium with cheap energy.

It was late morning, and Bente was stretched out on the sofa, watching the relatively calm sea stretching towards the horizon. A small house robot was patiently perching next to her, a screen extended from one of its limbs so Bente was able to view its contents lying flat on her back, her head only slightly propped up so she could simultaneously enjoy the view. What she saw worried her slightly, as she was not able to interpret the numbers that were displayed on the organic LED display. These were the usual seismic data sets from the previous 24 hours which in this part of the world should be completely and utterly reassuring. Even with the weight of the Gamma Project none of the geophysical reviews ever came up with any unusual data. The last time that the earth shook in this part of the world was in 1994 when a small 4.1 quake caused a cottage to fall apart and some pictures to come off the walls around Heinsberg. But there, in fron of her, were clearly some sort of seismic activity coming from the southern fault line of the London-Brabant massif. She ran some diagnostic routines on the seismic sensors distributed around the sea floor and checked the health of the geophysical microsatellites that were sitting in geostationary orbit above Western Europe, constantly measuring movement of the earth's crust.Everything seemed to be fine. As the head of geophysics on the management board of the Gamma Project she would have to tell her colleagues. But not without running the data past her favourite colleague, the slightly weird lithostratigraphist Grinvald Hansen from the University of Nuuk. She had never met anybody so strange and smelling of fish in her life, even after being exposed to the male geeks in the physics department of the University of Groningen, but Bente knew he would be able to make sense of this pile of data. And because she now had a splitting headache and started to develop a really foul mood, she decided to contact her ex-husband as well.

Qaqortoq: Chapter IV | Qaqortoq: Chapter VI

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