I should have sold it. I still can, but now I know too much about the place to offload it on someone else without some guilt. Why aunt Chelsea gave it to me in her will I’ll never know…
OK, OK, let me start at the beginning. I’m John Hargreaves. I’m an actor. Yes, that’s still a career. Synth-actors still don’t have the range that a human has, so we humans still can have a career as an actor. What was I in? Um, well… I used to work in an amusement park as train engineer.
Yes it’s not a true acting career, but it paid the bills. I could improv some of my lines, and the train drove itself. But that’s beside the point. About a year ago, I came home from being Engineer Bill… Yes, that Engineer Bill, and there was a message waiting for me. It was a e-letter from a probate attorney.
My aunt Chelsea Hargreaves had passed away a month before. Turned out she was allergic to the latest anti-aging regime. Sad really, she was a pistol. I already knew she had died from my dad, but I didn’t know how much she cared for me and my sister… Aunt Chelsea never married, never had kids, but she did dote on my sister and me. I just thought that she was a crazy scout working for the Confederation.
Turns out that she was a private contractor, and a successful one. So when she passed on, we all found out how much money she had. Dad and my uncle Earl were set for life, for as long as they could possibly live. My sister got aunt Chelsea’s ship, the Sparkle Twilight. Sis did take after dad’s side of the family. She’s planning to head on out and see what she can see.
Me… I got DM-54.234-28 e.
No, it’s not a computer or robot. If you look it up, it’s the fifth planet in the DM-54.234-28 system. It’s a “marginal” world, one that needs some terraforming. And it was all mine…
So, what did John Hargreaves find on his inherited planet? Could he afford to even visit it? Of course, his opening sentence implies that he did, but it’s probably not very often. The story implies that FTL travel is commonplace enough that private ownership of starships is a thing. Maybe he caught a ride from his sister?
So, what can you do with a marginal planet, in dire need of terraforming? And what the heck was aunt Chelsea doing with that planet?
Starting Point by John Reiher
Image credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech