ready to expand in time for next Advancement.

Foster              Yessir.

Debars             What a fine confederation we've made for ourselves, sir! It's the age of progression and the creation of a world just for our use. What a disgrace to represent it with outdated technology and scabby structures—don't you think?

Foster              Aha. I understand you brought equipment for this Advancement, Sir?

Debars             That's correct.

Foster             All right. I'll have Mr. Grey administer its storage. [typing on thumbpad] How many people are going to need housing?

Debars             Four parties altogether. Three singles and one double.

Foster              A double?

Debars             Yes—our expert architect decided to bring along her only Beta, a son. Couldn't bear to be away, I suppose. Poor thing, holding onto a career while trying to balance the raising of a child on top of it, all by herself.

Foster              [typing]


Debars             A right shame. Now, if you would show me to my room, Mr.….

Foster              Jonathan Foster, Chief of Security.

Debars             Yes, of course—Chief Foster. Mark Johnson Debars, United Colonies delegate. Now, if you'll be kind enough to show me to my room, Chief Foster, the sooner I'll be able to settle in. And the sooner I'm settled, the sooner I'll be able to get to work.

Foster              Of course, Mr. Debars.

Debars             [winking] And the sooner I start, the sooner I'll be able to finish.


               …Yessir. Oh, and ah, Our kitchen staff has taken it upon themselves to cook a special meal in time for you and your company's arrival; you must be parched from the long drive. Whenever you're ready, Sir, the colony will be assembled in the dining hall.

Debars             Dining hall, eh? Excellent. Give the staff our regards, Chief.

Exit Foster.

                         [to himself] What a disgrace! How could I have ended up here? Does Congress really think so poorly of me, to send me off to one of the farthest colonies under our power? How disposable I am to them! I'm sure they'd be content if I never made it out of this forsaken desert—what's one scrambling politician, more or less? But oh, it will only be awhile. Only a few months of colonists and heat and dirt, and soon as you know it I'll be back in the city. Back in polycorp sidewalks and ceiled enclosures, where it's safe. Actually safe. I'll show them what talent I truly have: this colony will be a shining beacon in this ugly sea of sand by the time I'm through with it.


The End

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