After lunch, Charley excused himself, and Graham took Peggy Lee and Ian on a tour of the Farallon Platform. From the dining hall, they descended two flights of stairs to a large, secured door. Graham inserted his key card into the slot at the side of the door. The heavy door slid silently to the side revealing a large room. On one side of the room, a bank of computer terminals was manned by five soldiers. Above them, huge flat-screen monitors displayed hundreds of images from the solar fields. Opposite the soldiers’ work stations, an imposing array of ten blade server racks lined the wall, locked securely in tall, black metal cabinets. A technician had one of the cabinets open and looked to be replacing a component in one of the blade servers. The lights on the remainder of the servers blinked regularly, and the room hummed with the reassuring sound of computer processing.
“Welcome to the ‘Brain Room,’” Graham said as they walked over to the monitor wall. “From here, we have eyes on every solar panel in all three fields. These computers keep track of the kilowatts coming out of the fields and then coordinate deliveries to the boiler units. Much of the power is stored in batteries located here and on floating storage stations throughout the boiler unit fields. These computers help monitor our stored energy and tell us when we are low on juice. We need to keep all of the boilers at full capacity all the time – or as close to it as possible. At times, it becomes a delicate balance between the sun, the panels, the batteries, and the boilers. These computers keep the whole system running smoothly.”
“And where were we this morning?” Peggy Lee asked nodding towards the large screens.
“We cruised through the eastern section of Solar Field A, so we would have passed by solar panels 134, 135, and around there,” Graham explained, pointing up to the appropriate screen.
“I see,” Peggy Lee responded.
Ian started to get out one of his cameras from his shoulder bag.
“I’m sorry, Ian, but filming in the Brain Room is out of the question. I hope that that won’t be a problem for your story, Peggy Lee,” Graham said.
“Of course, we can always work with the footage we’ve already shot. I appreciate you showing us around. And of course, as my editor and you already agreed, you have final approval over the content of my story. I’ll try to avoid writing about anything that could compromise security.”
“I’d appreciate that,” Graham responded. “Well then, let’s continue.”
Graham led them back upstairs to a narrow hallway that led to another large door. Graham swiped his card again, and the door opened onto the bottom floor of a wide cylindrical room five stories high. The room was warm and loud with the intense whirring of massive fans high above them. Each story had a circular, metal walkway and seven hatches located at regular intervals around the walkway.
“This is the Farallon Battery Station,” Graham said loudly. “Each hatch leads to a battery bank. The batteries produce a lot of heat, so we keep this place well-ventilated. Each battery has the capacity to power approximately thirty boilers for twenty-four hours. Every night, we use about a third of that capacity to keep the units running when there’s no direct power coming from the solar fields. The rest of the capacity is built in to give us time for repairs. It’s not a lot of time, but we have relied on the batteries a few times when working out kinks in the Brain Room, and once also, when a main power cable was damaged during an earthquake. As you can imagine, it is important to have some juice in reserve for unanticipated interruptions in power supply.”
“Yes, of course,” Peggy Lee said over the din of the fans. “It’s all quite impressive.”
After the tour, Graham led Peggy Lee and Ian to the guest quarters. He always stayed with the soldiers, but this time he had assigned himself a room in the guest quarters. He told Charley that he just wanted to make sure Peggy Lee and Ian were comfortable. In reality, he wanted to be as close to Peggy Lee as possible for the remaining hours of her visit.
Graham took Ian to his room first. Ian set his camera bag down on the bed, and looked around. “This’ll do,” he said.
“I believe you can find your way to the dining hall for dinner tonight,” Graham said. “Let’s meet there at about six o’clock. There’s an alarm clock on the bedside table if you want to take a nap. You also have a hologramovision in that cabinet.”
“Okay,” Ian grunted.
“See you this evening then,” Graham said as he backed out the door.
Peggy Lee hesitated in Ian’s room for a moment. “Shall we discuss the footage?”
“No,” Ian responded. “Come by around five and we’ll do it then, okay?”
She walked out the door and joined Graham in the hallway.
After they had taken a few steps away from Ian’s room, she confided, “He really is a bit of an ox – big, difficult, and stubborn.”
“How long have you two been working together?” Graham asked. He did not want to agree with her too quickly. He still did not understand their relationship.
“Well, that’s just it. We’ve been together since the beginning. That’s why I don’t even consider changing cameramen. I’m a loyal person, and he has helped me get this far. So there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to change things now – except of course that I get tired of his moodiness. But I’m pretty sure I can put up with it for a few more years.”
“I admire your loyalty,” Graham said as opened the door to her room. “Until tonight. And remember, we are meeting for dinner at six. No squid this time, I promise.”