Gerome walked briskly out of the office. A large sign flashed behind him, clearly stating “Office of Colony Management, SigCorp” and that the land rush still had plot of land available in a variety of off-world fringe locations. His fingers were turning white grasping the small packet of material that guaranteed him a 36 clik square homestead with a guaranteed 20 kilometer buffer, all mineral and gas rights as well as guaranteed pricing for 2 years on sell back of resources. Gerome could only hope this was the turning point for his future, one bathed in the sewers of the underworld and a plea bargin to avoid imprisonment on public nuisance charges. At 24 years old, the next few years held little promise, with no credits for education or trade apprenticeship. His friends were sure this was yet another scheme and failed to doom as Gerome was viewed as a quitter. There was no turning back now, and this seemed a much safer option than joining the Merc-Militia in securing and policing underworld or scraping a subsistence in dead end jobs. Petty crime paid little and with the heat on – heavier stuff would land him a long term stint on a prison planet.
The exterior of the packet was labeled with a scatter code, date and location; CNY-945673-A2, 08Jul2027, Hanger 12B, Chang-Clinton Aerospace Portage, Overworld. After carefully packing a few reminders of home and personal treasures, Gerome stepped onto the transport sled and scanned the packet. Personal cabin 1247 beeped and the door slid open. The inside was a padded chair that rotated to view a curved data monitor that was running another space station resort advert. The door slid shut and a variety of options were offered for the long trip to aerospace port, as well as instructions to place his thumbs into the authorization pad. The monitor indicated that the travel time would be approximately 6 hours, they would be travelling at a speed approaching 800 kilometers per hour and that the personal cabin would provide all of the conveniences necessary, even a toilet should such accomodations be required. Large icons on the monitor HUD blinked as he was told of the selections. As part of his contract, the details and plans for settlement would be reviewed momentarily. He would be tested on the requirements to ensure his understanding. Additionally, on arrival to his transport to a space station, training and overview of survival techniques would be provided. He must successfully complete those steps as well as file the proper “Settlement Proprietarship” paperwork and business plans or risk losing everything, likely to work for SigCorp as a manual laborer to pay off the debt he just signed up for.
“Business class is something…” Gerome mused. This was the first time he had been on a speed tram of this quality. Normally he just stayed around his neighborhood, occasionally jacking a scooter or hitching a scoot behind a taxi.
With a shoulder harness strapped on and sitting comfortably in the seat, Gerome’s ears popped as the door sealed. The cabin was little larger than a cabinet, but could “roll” back to a reclining position, allowing him to relax. With a touch of the monitor, he started the introductory materials for his new job and adventure.
The monitor filled briefly with a spinning SigCorp logo:
Contract Review: Gerome Taggart, Social ID: GA-443-68-3880, Registered Resident of Earth, New York City, Underworld. Resident at 33485 Madison, Sublevel 4. Your contract terms extend to:
- Homestead contract, offworld colony. Site size 36 cliks, all mineral and gas resource rights approved. Please review EPA/Offworld specs 35764/6 subparagraph G governing proper procedures for extraction, process and cleanup.
- Colonial Home Lander model 12A, 40 meter living space, self contained truck. Supports 6 storage modules as described below:
- Rover/Bot workshop model 36746 – prebuilt rover deck with attachments for earth moving, sampling, site analysis. Parts and mini-machine shop in kit.
- Evaporator/Atmosphere processor with 1 year filter kits and storage for 500 gallons of H2O. Algae and chemical innoculators included.
- Mineral Resource Extractor Unit model X64
- Hydro/Thermal power unit. Photoelectic backup. 1800 Kilowatt hour batter storage. Maintenance Kit included.
- Site Construction Toolkit, includes all tools necessary to construction Phase II facility, plasti-foam injectors and alu-crete blender.
- Emergency Escape module
- Mr. Taggart has agreed to exploit mineral and gas resources on behalf of SigCorp for a period of 2 years. Weekly reports on progress, to include potential volumes and quality of resources, current health and facility status are required. SigCorp will purchase all mass produced resources at a 50% reduced cost from commodity pricing, with the reduction going against the purchase of Colony package. Mr. Taggart has agreed to a price of 12,764,887.75 credits, with an anual compound interest rate of 11%. All rates will be adjusted for inflation quarterly.
- Mr. Taggart has also agreed to participate in deep space exploration study that will include the testing and utilization of specific techniques and equipment outlined in the data package load on his Lander. He further agrees to follow all procedures and report gaps in procedural documentation to SigCorp as part of the weekly update.
- SigCorp reserves first rights to purchasing homestead from Mr. Taggart should resources prove worthwhile for exploit. The purchase would freely absolve Mr. Taggart from any remaining debt credit on this contract, less any supplied and consumables provided throughout the 2 year contract period. Mr. Taggart may choose to remain insitchu and negotiate a new contract on resource sales and consumables with SigCorp.
- Should Mr. Taggart fail to meet required quotas, the Homestead property will be executed as lien against his debt and removed from premised to be returned to a location to be determined. Mr. Taggart will be responsible for all travel costs associated with his return to Earth or other location.
Please touch the screen to indicate your understanding of the above terms. This summary is provided as a proxy to the contract (Colony Contract: Homestead CNY-945673-A2) signed in person by Gerome H Taggart on 07Jul2027. Thank You.
Gerome hesitated. It was easy enough to overlook the more disturbing terms in the multiscreen contract he imprinted at the office yesterday. Now the reality set in. He was racing toward his destiny and failure would utterly bankrupt him. Well, even bankrupt trumped pushing rocks on a prison planet. He tapped the blinking button on the screen, and spoke toward the microphone below the screen.
“I, Gerome Taggart, accept the terms. Thank you”
The transport sled sighed with a transfer of hydrolics and lurched. Another batch of space pioneers were risking it all to feed earth and hopefully strike it rich.
The monitor blanked for a second and responded with:
“Acceptance acknowledged. Thank you. Please watch the following introduction to the processes and procedures for your arrival to the Chang-Clinton Aerospace Portage Facility and the Delta Space Offloading Station where you will board your personal Lander and prepare for your journey.”
Gerome suddenly wondered how the toilet worked, and reached up to tap the facilities icon.