A strange behemoth of a boat is parked off the coast of Hawaii, but it isn't alone. On the shore are dozens of protesters, and in the legislature are dozens of greedy politicians promising to lower their roadblocks if the deep pockets of this new industry make the right campaign contributions. No, this boat is surrounded on all sides by controversy. It's an island factory, the first of its kind.
The eight tugs wrestled the behemoth into position, less than half a mile offshore. The smell of molten lava and salty steam filled the air, offering a sharp contrast to the heavy diesel fumes the crew had gotten used to.
"I've never been to Hawaii before," Jason said as the small group gathered on deck.
"I was here nine years ago when this project was still experimental," the chief engineer said. "Back then, we were making destroyers and carriers." He pressed against the railing as he leaned toward the island. "I would have thought it would have stayed purely military for a hundred years. Top-secret stuff. You could be tried for treason for even telling your wife—"
"Oh, I'm not married, Sir," Jason said, pulling a cigarette from his pocket.
The engineer was more than a little upset after being interrupted. "You better head back to your bunk, Son, we got a big day ahead of us when the sun comes up in," he pressed the backlight on his watch, "six hours. We've got to hook this thing up."
"Sure thing, Pops," he said sarcastically, "after I finish this cancer stick, thank you very much." He started puffing away.
The group had been pulling scheduled maintenance on the unwieldy behemoth as it steamed for nearly two months across the ocean, toward its singular purpose. And at last, they were here. Yet nothing could be done until sunrise. It was irritating to everyone, yet there was simply nothing that could be done.
Except stare off the side of the boat at the glowing, eerie, molten rock as it trickled in slow motion down the land and into the sea.
Eventually, they heeded sound advice, and one by one retired to their tiny rooms.
When the noise of the diesel calmed, Jason could hear the chatter above the pit.
"The anchor jacks read secure, Sir. We have a solid footing."
"Alright," the captain said, "how's the high voltage cable to the mainland coming?"
"It should be connected by the end of the day, weather permitting."
"Good. Let's start deploying the pipes toward shore and get this factory pumping out product."
The diesel roared back to life as Jason worked the riggings and screwed another length of pipe onto the growing bridge. The entire assembly was then hydraulically shoved closer to shore. It was boring and repetitious, but it was a job. A very lucrative job, for someone with his limited skills.
Besides, this was an adventure, of sorts. A learning opportunity he may never get again. He tempered his smart-ass tendencies, best he could. The truth was he needed this job. He had come to Hawaii to change his aimless life.
The behemoth was huge, but its parts and function looked deceptively simple.