Author: Alastair Millar

If you’re a trillionaire, you can get powerful people to turn up when you call an informal meeting. It’s one of the perks.

As the Industrialist’s guests finished their excellent meal, the Diplomat put down his glass and said, “This is all very pleasant, but why are we here?”

“I’ve decided to help,” she replied. “Rising sea levels have put whole populations on the move in Europe; in Africa and Asia coastal communities have been devastated, and people are migrating, even though wealthier countries can’t or won’t take them in.”

Heads of assorted colours and genders nodded around the table. Whether with lies, bribery, asserting influence or applying outright violence, they were all dealing with it, one way or another.

“I and some partners want to help take some pressure off. We have commissioned plans for what we call MegaRafts – self-sufficient floating communities of ten to twenty thousand. Their energy will come from wind and solar power; yeast and algae farms will provide food, supplemented of course by whatever the residents can catch at sea. Satellite communications will mean remote working can generate income for whatever they find they need in the way of luxury goods, repairs and suchlike.”

“And who’ll pay for all this?” asked the Merchant Banker.

“We’ll make the blueprints available to all, for nothing. My friends and I will finance the first couple of dozen, and donate them where we think they’ll help most. A practical proof of concept. After that… governments? charities? public fundraisers? other philanthropists? Anyone really.”

“Ridiculous. You can’t make ships that size,” stated the Politician.

“Of course you can. The capacity isn’t much more than a modern cruise vessel,” said the Shipping Magnate, looking thoughtful.

“Pirates,” said the Admiral laconically.

“The MegaRafts will be equipped to defend themselves, obviously. But not so much that they pose a threat to littoral settlements. They’ll be neither prey nor predator.” The Industrialist smiled.

“Colonialism dressed up,” muttered the Warlord.

“Not at all. These will be independent entities, free to travel the high seas wherever they will. And not so profitable or strategically important that they’ll make it worthwhile occupying them.”

The discussion went on for a long time after that.

“Will it work?” asked her reclusive Husband, as they got ready for bed later that evening.
“Oh yes. They all see a way of getting rid of their problems on the cheap, putting them out of mind and literally out of sight – it’ll play well to the conservative voters, or buttress their own positions.”
“Are you sure?” He removed his shirt, displaying his a slightly misshapen torso in the dimmed light. Her gaze lingered on him.
“Yes. I’ve spent a lifetime getting us to this point, I’m not going to let the project fail now. Part of humanity is going back to the oceans. The landmasses are becoming unviable, they’d have to do it eventually. We’re just accelerating the process a little.”
“The bioengineering teams are ready?”
“Yes, they’ll embed with the refugees; de-evolution will need a helping hand. Our beneficiaries will get every physical advantage we can give them.”
“No regrets?”
“None. You’re proof that the idea works. We’ll take people with nothing to lose, and give them two-thirds of the planet’s surface.”
“And then what? Parallel species? Competition? A fight to the extinction of one or the other?”
“Who knows? That’s a problem for those who are left behind. We’ll just trust that the Old Gods will take care of their new people.”
Her Husband smiled, and clicked his gills.