They stood alone in the deserts of West Texas, some of the cheapest, least useful, barren land in the continental United States not used for atomic testing.

“We’ve expanded into China. We had to jump through some legal hoops. Technically, ‘we’ are a subsidiary that we own in joint partnership with someone’s nephew’s wife’s uncle. But, they won’t block our IPs anymore.”

The Engineer laughed. “No. They’ll just steal it.”

The Accountant became defensive, “We’re ensuring that the critical technology never reaches that subsidiary.”

“No. We’ve ensured that we will build new tech faster than they realize it’s worth stealing.”

The Accountant didn’t answer. That was an old disagreement not worth reopening now.

The Engineer asked after a moment, “We own the land now?”

“50,000 acres as of 9 this morning.”

“Then we can file the patents.” He brushed the lifeless sand with his boot, “In 6 months, I will have turned this wasteland into the amber waves of grain.”

The Accountant sighed, “It will take us decades to recoup the investment. Food is a commodity. This was a mistake.”

“I’m turning a desert into an oasis. In 6 months it will be farmland. In a decade, it will be a paradise.”

“I accounted for the secondary effects. We still lose money.”

The Engineer groaned, this tired debate again, “It’s like something out of Exodus. Only I didn’t wander 40 years in the desert. I studied and worked and I’m making my own promised land!”

The Accountant smirked, “Will you beat swords into ploughshares?”

“About that…Will they fund the AMs?”

“There are holdouts in the House.”

“Which party?”

“Both. For different reasons. The democrats don’t like increasing the military budget. The religious right doesn’t like that the neural interface uses stem cells.”

The Engineer groaned in frustration at human stupidty. “Start a PR campaign. Paint opposition as religious fundamentalism. That will scare the left wing holdouts. As for the right…take them on a joy ride into lower orbit. And while you’re up there, explain to them that their prolife voters care about abortion clinics today! They don’t want to cede the world to China, because some scholastic nonsense about an abortion that happened in the 60s!”

The Accountant nodded and scribbled down a few notes.

The Engineer was silent, calming himself. Idiots. Everyone idiots. “How is she?”

“We took care of it. She’s fine.”

The Engineer mumbled, “3% failure rate.”

The Accountant nodded, “You got unlucky.”

The Engineer shook his head, “A 3% failure rate is a disgrace. I would fire an R&D team that delivered only one 9 of reliability. We need to put an R&D team on fixing that!”

The Accountant sighed, “Let’s get the AM funding before we disrupt birth control tech.”

“Right.” His oasis in the desert reminded him, and he smiled, “How is Las Vegas doing?”

Now the Accountant loosened up. “Begging to be acquired. Building RPG mechanics into virtual slots was genius. We’re making billions. They can’t compete.” For the first time, his eyes shined with admiration at the Engineer, who shook his head in amazement.

“That impresses you? I’m creating a paradise out of a land of death. I’m automating the job of ‘infantryman’ for America. That’s all boring and business like. But levelling up a slot machine, that is genius.”

The Accountant grinned, “DoD contracts excite me, too.”

They stood silent awhile, the Engineer looking into the distance.

“I want to found a city here. A planned city for the R&D department. A paradise for hackers and makers and MIT grads. No MBAs. No marketing majors. No accountants.” He grinned playfully at his companion. “Just geeks.”

The Accountant nodded gracefully. If playful teasing is all you have to endure to be a billionaire, life is good.

“What do I call it though?” The Engineer scanned through science fiction cities in his mind. “Foundation? Luna? Kalpa? Galt’s Gulch?”

Then he laughed at an ironic thought.

“New Jerusalem.” He kept laughing. “File the papers. Start it today. My techno-utopian paradise will be named New Jerusalem.”

The Accountant shifted uneasily, “Maybe we should wait on that one, too. Remember the religious right? The AM funding?”

The Engineer kept laughing, pulling his glasses off to wipe tears from his eyes, “Tell them it’s a compliment. A testament to America’s Christian heritage. Tell them whatever you want. But it will be the New Jersusalem.”

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06 March 2022