Author : Rosalie Kempthorne
Gerald stood in his green-walled study surveying the view-screen with interest. The screen itself was state-of-the art, thin-holographic, with life-like resolution, and convincing 3D effects. But what it displayed was far more interesting. Gold along much of the top; with threads of green burrowing into the gold and stretching out into the blue-grey that occupied much of its surface. At the bottom it was ice-white, striated with the same deep gold. And all of it covered by a fine white veil of cloud.
His agent was speaking: “J-Ibius 4. It’s located in the Whirlpool Galaxy” – a star-chart flashed up in one corner – “fairly deep in on the near side. The stars will be twice as thick as they are from earth.”
Night as if it were day. Very nice. Keep talking, Arnold…..
“There are two suns, and six other planets. You’ll get about sixteen hours daylight for most of the year. If you look at the mineral table here,” – it popped up on screen – “you’ll see there’s a lot of methane locked up in the polar ice. The surface is about 60% ocean, 20% ice-caps and 20% landmass. It looks as if there’s some vegetation growing over a lot of that landmass. The gold stuff you see all along here,” – he gestured with a little blinking cursor – “that’s a kind of plant-life. It flowers every three…”
He said “I’ll take it.”
“It’s beautiful. I’ll take it. How much do they want for it?”
“30 billion g’los.”
“Done. Make the deal.”
Gerald played around with the viewer, letting the planet spin around from different angles. It really was beautiful. The golden vines that covered the land – and much of the ice – would be amazing to see up close. The green-grey fissures he’d noticed around the outside were likely to be valleys, maybe lush and full of flora. The ocean: it might look like silver when the two suns shone on it together. Gerald was willing to gamble that that ocean might have islands. And if not – well, he’d have islands made. He would just have to think up a name for the place….
His agent was back on – a face in the left corner.
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
Arnold smiled, “Ever glad to help.”
Ever glad of that fat commission I pay you. But, well, the guy did earn it.
“I have to say, sir, I admire your courage.”
“It could be hundreds of years before the technology exists for you to even visit that place, let alone settle there.”
“I’m a patient man.” And look where that’d gotten him. So now he intended to have the best of everything; the best clothes, the best house, the best longevity this modern world could offer one of its wealthiest citizens. Since such extravagances now included the purchase of planets in other galaxies, he fully intended to have his share of the pie. He could only view it now, only saviour the image, and know that it was his. But that was enough for the moment. He played his new planet around a few more times on the screen, zooming in on some of its barely-glimpsed features, allowing himself to imagine what some of these shapes and colours might reveal when that world could be properly explored by drones. He zoomed in for a moment on a cobalt-blue lake, edges surrounded in terracotta-rose.
Yes, this was going to do very nicely.