eKapa, eKapa People’s Republic
The People’s Antarctic Council’s headquarters in eKapa were, on the whole, quite uninteresting. Of course, a fair few would assume that what happened inside these buildings was also quite uninteresting. Almost tranquil, really, surrounded by the bright flashing lights, choking smog, and twisting urban mass that had taken over the Cape Peninsula, the PAC building was just an incredibly boring-looking place. A blocky, gray building reflective of the neo-brutalist movement which had enjoyed brief popularity in the Union during the 2040s, the only thing that was notable about it was how utterly unassuming it looked.
Inside these unassuming-looking buildings was an equally unassuming set of offices, dedicated to the Office of Polar Programs. A rather obscure little section, as far as the general public cared, though that apparently didn’t stop their mailbox from being filled with rather lewd messages regarding poles…
Obscure or not, the OPP played a role, and a rather important one at that. It was, after all, the arm of the Union’s government charged with the nation’s day-to-day operations on the vast continent that lay across the southern seas. The extensive presence in Antarctica was centered around the Prince Edward Islands and four permanent research bases but had countless temporary and seasonal sites beyond that. Someone had to handle all the logistics and operations for the constellation of outposts spread across the icy wastes. But the purview of the OPP meant a great many things beyond throwing funding at scientists and sending findings to party officials who were increasingly enamored with any part of the solar system that wasn’t the planet Earth. There were, after all, a great many people involved in these cold regions. Military, contractors, other agencies, all things which needed juggling, something which Director Njabulo Kambule had grown very good at indeed.
It was, as usual, early in the morning when the Director came in. The large, bearded man had found that he much preferred the early trains, at least one could find someplace to sit, and the claustrophobia-inducing crowds were blessedly less intense, allowing him some space to breathe before he finally reached the stable sanctuary of his workplace. It certainly helped that today, Kambule could take a great deal of satisfaction in seeing that something had been accomplished. Something long in progress, at that.
“Hey… Winnie, is this what I think it is?” the Director asked, stepping into the break room and holding up a paper that had caught his eye.
“Uh… dunno, what do you think it is?” a rather sleepy-looking woman responded.
“Icebreakers, Winnie, icebreakers! Navy just put their latest one into operation.”
“Ah, yeah, that they did. That’ll be good, for the program and all,” Winnie said sleepily.
“That it will,” the Director agreed, slowly nodding his head. Winnie was far too new around here to remember the bad old days, of course. It went without saying that operations in the polar regions meant dealing with a great deal of ice. Kambule and his friends in the Navy had spent damn well over a decade pushing for expansions to the fleet, but of course, all anyone really cared about was the fancy warships. And gods knew, nobody could be bothered to really fund the Navy anyways, not like the imperialist powers did, anyways. Nowadays, the terrestrial fleet had to compete with spaceships as well as all the other branches, and when you were dealing with some Party official who wanted some pet project to show off, well, between some little missile boat or a warship in space was not much of a competition.
Hell, even the OPP was beginning to feel it. Ever since the Tesla drive entered production, their office had been emptier than the continent they were studying.
But they’d had a head start, at least. The last decade had seen the production of a fair number of the new vessels, even a line of nuclear-powered ones, after what had been half a lifetime of relentless lobbying. This latest one merely marked another success. Probably the last one for a long time too, the way the next budget was beginning to shape up. But those were all problems for another day, and Antarctica wasn’t going anywhere. At least the place wasn’t completely turning into some military or commercial playground the way space was. And that was fine, if the Southern Continent was left to be his sandbox, all the better.
Kambule said his goodbyes to Winnie, and headed into his office.
“Yes… yes, I just heard,” he spoke into the phone, “Ahead of schedule too! My, we ought to grab a drink and celebrate…”