Anita pours through reams of performance data on the failing sensors at the west end of the solar farm. She taps her pen on the desk as she mumbles figures to herself and scribbles key numbers down on a pad of paper by her coffee mug. Eduardo takes a post outside the truck and monitors the dust trails in the distance which betray the UV attempting to infiltrate their complex.
“Eduardo? I just got an accurate satellite picture of the Land Rover. I think you should look at it,” yells Anita from the back of their mobile data centre.
The UV is still at least 5 kilometres from the failed sensors, so Eduardo deems it safe to join his colleague at the computer. The satellite watch will alert them of any other vehicles that may approach in his absence. He grabs a seat next to Anita and leans in to where she is pointing on the display.
“I can’t be sure, Eduardo, but it looks an awful lot like Tapiwa.”
“I thought he was dead.”
“Apparently not. Look,” Anita circles a man’s hand on the satellite image with her stylus and zooms in. The star-shaped burn mark between the thumb and index finger of his left hand is clearly visible. Eduardo’s mind tumbles into an anxious spiral.
Four years ago, during his first trip to SahaSun’s headquarters in Niamey, a mid-African mercenary group lead by Tapiwa was involved in random acts of sabotage on several of the Sahara Desert solar test farms jointly funded by an alliance of solar companies aimed at burying the fossil fuel industry in Africa. Although ties between Tapiwa and 3 of the major world oil interests were never fully proven, Tapiwa himself was captured and charged with 52 counts of industrial terrorism causing death.
Last year, a unanimous jury found him guilty of all counts and he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder of hundreds of “heretic sun worshippers” as the newspapers reported him denouncing, thus classifying his band as religious extremists completely unrelated to any influence from big oil.
A few month later, Tapiwa was reportedly found dead in his cell from an apparent suicide.
But Eduardo never bought into that story. As far as he was concerned, Tapiwa was just a fall guy for an underground fossil fuel military faction which Eduardo held solely responsible for the death of his long time childhood friend Enrique. He suspected Tapiwa had been silenced instead.
Unfortunately, based on the evidence in the satellite images, it appears that Tapiwa has been miraculously raised from the dead and Eduardo’s theory is partially flawed. His suspicion of fossil fuel involvement remains however.
Eduardo starts shaking his leg uncontrollably as he flips through a series of satellite images of the front passenger in the Land Rover just to be sure. Anita goes back to troubleshooting the perimeter weakness while Eduardo updates base camp with their findings: “Station 27 to base. Station 27 to base…Prepare to receive satellite transmission. Over.”
The response comes swiftly. It’s SahaSun’s general manager whose testimony had sealed Tapiwa’s fate. “Eduardo. Get out of there. Code Echo 2 Fox. I repeat. Echo 2 Fox. Over.”
Anita swivels her chair back to the surveillance system and freezes. Ten more UVs are closing in fast and heading straight for the exact location of the hole in perimeter security.
She grabs the radio from Eduardo’s hands and yells: “Where’s that chopper?!!”
The radio goes dead.
… to be continued in Ultimate Solar Power.