Chapter Five: The Moon Crisis (The Crisis of Year Five)


<<<In the trenches>>>

It is a year later, five years since the Mirondians arrived. It is Moon Meeting time again for Zeb and Judy. They are gathered at a banquet.

Zeb says, "How’s the year been going, Judy?"

Judy facepalms, "Oh my! It’s been a rough one."

"No contracts?"

"Plenty of contracts, but lots of difficult work and not much profit. The Mirondians are getting hard-nosed. The scuttlebutt is: This star ship project is going to be a big, expensive one, even for them. They are squeezing."


"Yeah, but we’re adapting. We’re doing more work for human contractors. They are still paying like they did last year and there are more of them."

"And how about you, Zeb?"

"Well... the hot news is: I got accepted to the charter class at MirU."

"What? That new university they are opening up? The one that’s teaching hard-core blip?"

"That one, indeed! And, you know who else is in the class with me? John Foursmoots."

"...The one who first discovered the Mirondian ship was coming our way?"

"One and the same. And he’s been busy since then. He’s been helping redesign the Mirondian propulsion systems -- making them work at higher G force."

"Impressive! On many counts."

"I’m headed there from here. That’s why I’m up here now. MirU is at the Showroom Asteroid."

"What’s Jason up to these days?"

"Funny you should ask: I was talking with John Foursmoots and apparently he and Jason have crossed paths on Earth, and are now buddies of some sorts."

Judy shakes her head at this news, "It’s a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack. What I heard was he has kept up his protesting, and got tossed in jail a couple times."

"Foursmoots and jail time for Mirondians Go Home protesting, that is a strange mix."


<<<The Big Picture>>>

The Mirondians were true to their word... sort of. There were changes from Year Four. The first noticeable change was that the Mirondians got hard-nosed in their bargaining on contracts -- they wanted more for less. Clearly, the spaceship was expensive even for the deep-pocketed Mirondians. The hard-nosed bargaining was their way of passing on part of the cost.

The second big change was opening what the Solar System community called Mirond University -- MirU for short. A campus was built at Showroom Asteroid, and there Solar System people learned from MSE's about advanced blip construction and management, and about other things that the Mirondians felt star travelers should learn. The university grew to where it taught thousands of students. When the university started it appeared that the Mirondians finally emptied their MSE barrel staffing the university. After it got started, MSE's switched around from project to project, but very few new ones came from the mother ship.

The programs taught were "blip short" in duration -- Masters and Doctorate equivalents took six months each. They were short, but effective. Graduates came out with distinctly different ideas on how to get things done... and the social friction grew even more.

In Month Nine of Year Five, a series of demonstrations spread around the Solar System community, and then turned violent. The turn to violence was spooky. Earth communities have had long experience with protesting demonstrations, including those that turn violent, so on Earth this wave was handled with average disruption. But protests and demonstrations were new to the other Solar System communities. Previously, the communities had been too small and the peoples of the community too familiar with each other to need them. And the idea of doing random property damage was sacrilege on the colonies. In the colonies, you might get angry, but you never took it out on "stuff" because stuff was what kept you alive. The strange actions that happened during these violent protests shook up the off-Earth Solar System communities deeply. "Earth's bad habits are spreading out with their immigrants!" was the word-of-mouth gossip.

The protests lead to many community leaders calling for a cooling off period. For three months the Mirondians stopped generating new contracts, and when they started again, there were some socially protective provisions included in them.

These were stressful times, and many people were coming up with many ideas for curing the stress. In calmer times such people are called "cranks" and "crackpots" and mostly ignored. But in these stressful times many more people listened seriously to these strange ideas, and the speakers attracted followers.