Gerome slid exhausted into his bunk. Since arriving at the Delta Space Offloading Station,
Gerome had spent seemingly limitless hours reviewing procedures and policies of claiming the homestead. He was still adjusting to the slightly less gravity of the space station. Tomorrow would be another big day, introduction to his new home, that just rolled off the manufacturing line. The bright and shiny lump of lander would be loaded onto a “truck,” attached to the series of modules containing gear, a rover, analytical material and even a drill and extraction device. So much to learn… Gerome slipped into a deep sleep.
The lights in the bunk cabin slowly lit, simulating the rise of the sun. Even the temperature rose in the room, as if the artificial sun was bringing its warmth. 8 men in the cabin all climbed out of their beds and cleaned up. A few, Gerome included, finished packing their few personal items into a ruck sack, prepared to take “the Ride.” The station was moving within the window to shoot the next few rides into deep space. A quick breakfast and some bitter black brew that posed for coffee and Gerome found himself in the briefing room for SigCorp’s send off.
“Congratulations. You have completed the necessary training and prerequisite engineering skills necessary to survive for a year and half mission. Upon completion of your mission, you will be granted full rights to your homestead, including mineral and gas rights. Many of you will fail, some will succeed. You have been fully briefed on the dangers and risks and have indemnified SigCorp from responsibility.
In a few hours, you will be put into a cryostatis state for the journey. Upon approach to the planet, your truck will deploy a series of drops, as well as deployment of a communication satellite in stationary orbit. This will allow the satellite to link communication and data streams to SigCorp, and determine the proper drop times for your lander and modules. Modules will enter first, followed by the lander. During the lander sequence, your statis will start to lift. This can be very disorienting, so we will administer some drugs to ease the transition to conciousness. Your stasis chamber will act as an escape pod in the case of catastrophic failure, and automatically deploy in such a case. A survival gear kit is found under headrest.
The lander and the modules, powered by their rocket skids, will land on auto pilot. The modules will intentionally stear a minimum of 100 meters clear of the lander. You will start your setup protocols immediately.
It is also important to note that you will need to manually set the circadian cycle clock on your lander. This will coordinate with your satellite to optimize the daily cadence, and transition your body clock into the necessary time frames. Once we determine the proper working schedules for your planet, taking into account any environmental effects, a work schedule will be laid out.
A list of tasks will be loaded into your master computer, and can be loaded into your EVA suit. The lander and modules will automatically level, run through basic pressure and bring up tests without your guidance. These tests should be run regulary to ensure the proper working of your craft and provide a maintenance schedule.”
Gerome sighed. It was hard to pay attention to the droning voice. At the least, SigCorp could have sent a human representative for the briefing. He was sure this was all prerecorded. He was ready to go – the Ride sounded like fun.
Finally, several lights above the large monitor blinked, and a synthetic “ding” woke Gerome out of his day dream. He wasn’t sure how much he missed, but was sure it was boring. It was time. The monitor asked him to report to Bay DCA-1009B immediately.
The short walk was brisk, and the nervous pioneers around him were silent. All were jittery. A collective hum of awe sounded when the hanger bay doors slowly slid open. A massive bay stood before them with no less than six Lander modules, all shining chrome in the bright lights. Robots on big rubber wheels slowly rolled around each Lander doing a last inspection of the exterior and detaching cables and hoses. Gerome walked up to his Lander, sitting on a padded grid laid out in bright neon green paint indicating 1009B. He grinned as he saw hand lettering that spelled out “Brutus” near the entry door in hand lettering that reminded him of the lettering he had seen on fighter jets in the movies.
“Brutus” was the name he had chosen, bucking the convention of giving female characteristics to a craft. There was little that could be called womanly about the hulking two story brute in front of him. It was a massive tube of aluminum alloy fitted with large rockets and equipment, all wrapped in a foil looking material that helped prevent radiation damage. The pad it was sitting on would fold up – providing an entry heat shield that will fall away after the primary chute system is deployed. So “Brutus” was ready and capable. The question now would be, could Gerome survive the trip, the landing, and ultimately survive and find valid resources sufficient to sustain his homestead, perhaps ultimately a colony.
The door hissed and the cabin pressurized as he stepped inside. “Welcome Gerome” displayed on the laser driven HUD before the controls panel and a voice said, “Please stow your personal belongings, launch sequence and truck load begins in 30 minutes. Please enjoy your flight.” A motorized sound came from behind the control panel that opened a door into the top “Quarters” of the Lander and the statis module whirred to life. Gerome testing the glove like fit, snuggled into the bunk compartment. He grinned, and taped an old photo of his mother to a bare spot where he would see her first thing on waking.