Chapter Four

When I arrive home on the cityship, I have a face-to-face with the full council. These people should be grinning ear-to-ear with the news I’ve brought, but as usual, they aren’t. They’re grim. The questions begin.

Councilmeister Loran asks, “What will we be paying for our cargo, Mr. Jax?”

Inwardly, I sigh. These people really don’t like me! I have handed them the best news they’ve had in decades on a silver platter, and I don’t even get an Attaboy! to start the meeting. These people not only don’t like me, they don’t trust me!

But I don’t snarl or snap, I simply say, “The price we pay for colonists will be highly erratic, but generally very low. However, we will have to wait a few years for cargo, and we are going to have to educate these people so that they understand colonizing is a viable way for them to solve many of their social problems.”

“Virgins, you say,” says Councilor La-Di-Da. (It’s really Ladi Dabo, “an old Nigerian name” as he often says, with strange pride for a Spacer. But La-Di-Da fits him so much better!) “So there is nothing ‘in the warehouse’ right now?”

“Nothing,” I respond. “These people must be educated. But when they are, we will have a bonanza on our hands.” I want to scream this out and spit in their faces, but I say it quite evenly.

There are looks of concern on the council faces. Why? Just because there isn’t product at hand? Can’t these fools see opportunity? Are they so insular and risk-averse that they can’t see golden opportunity in front of their noses?

Councilor La-Di-Da continues, “What if they won’t deal?”

“Then we wait. We must be patient. If they won’t deal right away, they’ll see massacres, and then they will deal.”

“What kind of time frame are we talking about? Do we have that kind of time?”

“These are short-life-cycle people, eighty years average. The simulators predict a climax to their troubles in about ten years, and a potential for large migrations for the ten years following that. Our task, should we choose to take it on, is to convince these people that migrating to our big ship in space is an attractive alternative. Attractive, one way or another, on a personal, community, or government-sponsored basis.”

(This is jargon, dear reader. “Personal” means that a person volunteers to become a colonist. Volunteers make lovely colonists, but they are rare. “Community” means that a small community kicks out criminals, scapegoats, or revenge prizes by sending them to us, and “government-sponsored” means that some large-region government is rounding up thousands to millions of people in some sort of pogrom or “reeducation campaign”, and we relocate them into our cryobators. Each of these kinds of colonists must be treated differently, if we are to use them successfully.)

“We will have to do some convincing?”

“Yes, we will have to do some convincing. These people are virgins. This alternative to solving their social problems has never been presented to them before.”

Finally! I see the twin gleams of fear and profit light up in the Council members’ eyes.

After exchanging glances with the other councilors, Loran declares, “Very well, Mr. Jax. The council has decided we should invest in this world. Congratulations. You are now First Administrator for the duration of this project.”

I bow for the applause of the council. At the end of the applause Councilmeister Loran adds, “Make us proud, son, and make us rich.”

It is the formal prayer of our ship, and it launches any significant ship project.

As soon as the meeting adjourns and I get a second to myself, I jump high in the air and shout, “HOT DOG!! I’ve done it! I’m First Administrator!”