“Eight million esteyn,” Merith Amézel said, gazing out at the blanket of white dusted across the plaza, hiding the mosaic that, on clear days, reflected the Thunderbird Applied Meteorology logo. “Eight million. That is what your damnfool stunt cost us.”
A cough came from behind him, but he didn’t turn.
“Let’s recap, shall we? You retasked three orbital mirrors and four echelon mirror systems to heat the ocean and put moisture into the air, along with creating shepherding air currents to ensure the moist air traveled along the right path and gained enough altitude to freeze. You redirected upper-atmosphere vectors across half the southern continent to put a cold downdraft in the right place to drop the ground temperature, and then deployed half the local fleet of cloud-seeding drones to ensure it precipitated out as snow directly over Cant Maris. Then used the same systems again to wrench those upset weather patterns mostly back into place. Do I have that right?”
“I also,” a soft voice said, “had the area swept with laser brooms to make sure we had a clear, bright sky today.”
“And you had the area laser-swept.” He turned, at last, and fixed the dar-e’sevdra standing before his desk with a gimlet eye. “At a total cost of eight million, one hundred and forty-two thousand, nine-hundred eighty-five esteyn, and requiring your co-workers to spend something like the next two months working overtime to get the ripples damped. Would you care to justify this series of actions?”
The feathers on his errant Regional Weather Supervisor’s wings ruffled, but she stood firm, and looked him in the eye. Merith approved.
“No justification. I take full responsibility for my actions, and -“
“No, Regional Weather Supervisor Leiril, I’m not looking for a formality to put on your contract termination. It’s your motives that I want to know.”
“The new colonists.”
“The ones who came in from Tessil on Wind-Carried Leaf?“
“I had a few drinks with a group of them a couple of weeks ago, and they were talking about never seeing snow at Winterlights on Tessil, and how disappointed they were that they still wouldn’t, Cant Maris being in the southern hemisphere, so I thought maybe….”
“…you could give that to them?”
Merith’s lips quirked. “A rather better reason than most. Very well. Consider yourself relieved of duty for the next two weeks, and we will be exercising clause 4/v/i of your contract with respect to a penalty equivalent to two months’ average consideration. Dismissed.” He swiveled back around to face the window, and the blanket of snow beyond.
“What!? I, uh, mean – what? The cost…”
“Did you think you were the only one?” he said, noting approvingly a group in the distance negotiating the terms of a snowball-deléhain. “We’ve given ourselves near-godlike command of the forces of nature, and temptation is what it is. Everyone who’s ever made it to Senior Regional Supervisor has a wild-weather incident on their record, so we budget for them. One wild-weather incident,” he added warningly. “But we can hardly be more severe to you than we all have been to ourselves.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you.” She paused for a moment. “If I may ask – what was yours?”
“Extreme skywriting.” Merith grinned at her over his shoulder. “Look it up in the records, if you like. Now leave an old man to watch his clients play.”