The Golden Jade - Hotan, Xinjiang, China
Oyunbileg Karabayeva’s Golden Jade hostel was prosperous for the area, east of the Yarungkash River, south of Hotan, Xinjiang, China. To the north is the Taklamakan desert and to the south are the Kunlun Hills and the Karakoram mountains. Before joining the Family of Man, Oyunbileg managed her business with the help of her five daughters. There was a small but steady stream of visitors to the Golden Jade, enjoying the best library in town, and Oyun’s knowledge of the locations of desert ruins. Oyun supplemented her income by selling carpets woven in the small factory she built with machines from discarded bicycle parts, scraps of wood, and cinder blocks. The other buildings on the dusty road up from the river were empty.
Oyunbileg takes full advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Family of Man, quickly expanding her economic operations, and the Golden Jade prospers. All the property on either side of the road down to the river is owned by the Family. The two buildings closest to the Golden Jade become workshops crowded with silk weavers and rug makers. At the top of the road, near the hostel, is the bike shop. They recently finished construction of two more buildings in the empty spaces further down the hill. There is a medical clinic at the foot of the road and another near the bus station in Hotan. A branch of the FoM Credit Union is located in the city.
Near a town like Hotan, with a population of over a hundred thousand, the Family’s presence centered on the Golden Jade is significant, but not enough to draw attention. Their side road is still covered with dust and sand. The beat up VW bus uses the gasoline engine while in town, and is only switched to the hybrid engine hidden inside when needed to drive into the desert. The fractalies plants ripple in the wind down the north side of the road, looking like common desert bushes, but they are genetically modified to improve their ability to absorb what little moisture there is in this climate, and to help the roots get some nutrients out of the sand. They are a gray-blue, but the ones out by the two smaller hostels in the mountains are pinkish. The Golden Jade has the same large wooden front door set into a thick stone wall, but the building has been expanded. The kitchen, in the front of a one story addition to the south side of the building, now must serve the dining room which has taken over the entire ground floor of the original hostel. A second floor has been added, reached by the stairs at the rear of the dining room, to accommodate a larger number of guests. In the rear of the kitchen addition is the communications room with its teleconferencing technology. On the north side, a symmetrical one floor addition contains the school. The low front roof is covered with solar panels, but the wall on the north side of the building is higher, and shields the equipment from easy view of the city.
Oyun’s growing franchise now includes over a hundred Family members and another hundred relatives and employees. They are protected by Family security scattered unobtrusively around the grounds and throughout Hotan. Twelve little Family farms further up the river supply some food for the hostel and the farmer’s wives often work on custom designed rugs. In Hotan, Oyun’s original "spies", the owner of a hardware store, a policeman, and the lone airport traffic controller, now each have a dozen apprentices scattered around town, keeping an eye on the children and an ear on any talk in town. They are government workers, police, small business owners, several bus drivers and some taxi drivers.
As the War begins, the conference room behind the kitchen and the guard room off that at the rear of the Golden Jade are busy. The back door of the Golden Jade leads to a path from the guard room to the bike shop and the ultralites which use the hard dirt extension of the road that ends in sand dunes as a landing strip. As the Chinese military move into the mountains toward the border with India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan immediately after the first nuclear explosions, Oyun leaves the Golden Jade in search of the hyperthread site twenty miles south of the city. The hyperthreads are reached from a wide plateau with sheer drops on three sides, a third of a kilometer up from the hills. A dry stream bed borders the plateau and leads higher into the mountains where it turns and reveals the hyperthread site surrounded by steep, scrub dotted cliffs.
Within days an access road is built from the river into the hills. It then switches back and forth up the walls of the canyon above the dry stream bed. While Ulysses worries about guarding the thread site and the route back to the Golden Jade, Oyun plans building a ‘Grand Hotel’ on the plateau. Oyun’s branch of the Family must rapidly expand to process the hyperthreads by disguising them in the rugs until their true usefulness is discovered.
The Peace Treaty of the Golden Jade, three weeks after the start of the War, takes place in the empty dining room, lit only by the kitchen fire and oil lamps on the walls, giving the room an ancient feeling. Like an old fashioned war lord, Oyun sat at the head of the main table and explained, "I am Oyunbileg Karabayeva. These are my daughters. And this is my family," she indicates the well armed ... and the images on the conference room computers. "We hope you will become our friends." Agreement came without hesitation. It was a turning point in the history of the region, allowing the most powerful forces, religious, political, and economic, to work out a way forward.
The two room cinder block building directly behind the clinic is where Dr. Beseret works on the vaccine. It has one window with a view of the desert and the Kunlun Hills, including a line of sight to the hyperthread cliffs. She enters the back door of the clinic to work with the computers, but she prefers her dusty room empty. Jen listens to the muezzin’s morning call to prayer at the Jamai Mosque, watches the sunlight come through the window in beams scattered by the poplar trees, and hears the branch tapping on the pane. In March 2010, after millions have died from the terrorists’ plague, Dr. Beseret found the vaccine.
Oyun’s franchise expands, moving east and west along the old southern silk road towards Kashgar and Minfeng, north into the Taklamakan and south into the Karrakorums. By the first anniversary of the War, the Family has over twenty thousand members in Xinjiang. By the time the Golden Jade Cliff House opens on "Renaissance Day" in September 2011, nearly a quarter million Family members, plus friends, relatives, and employees are in Xinjiang. Oyun and her seven daughters stand on the green grass of the front lawn as a small waterfall emerges from the rocks fifty feet above the roof of the Cliff House and splashes onto a water wheel and into a pool at the entrance to the lobby. It originates miles away in the higher mountains. The Golden Jade is visible in the distance, greener than before, as are the river farms due to Jen’s genetically engineered drought resistant trees and fractalie shrubs. A small windmill farm spins in the wind west of the river and the sun reflects off rooftop solar panels on many Family buildings below. A link of hostels connecting Moscow and Hotan is now complete, on the "New Silk Road."