Author: Alastair Millar

How hard could moving be? All I needed to do was mount the antigrav plates at the corners of my unit, then hook the place up to my hex bike and haul it off to its new location. Simple, right?

Except Hygeia III seems to delight in making sure that nothing’s ever that easy. First off, it turned out that my ship-fabricated mini-dwelling had settled into the ground, meaning several hours with a spade to loosen it up again. Great way to tear a muscle, given the gravity here, but somehow I managed. At least I’d got an early start.

Then the damn plates didn’t fire up! I’d done what everybody does, and rented them from the Central Trading Post, but nobody had bothered to mention that they needed charging before use. Wonderful. Another two hours sitting around, plugged in to the local utility net (which strictly speaking I had no right to access, since I’d registered my departure for today, but whatever).

I spent the time contemplating my move. Preparations for the arrival of the next wave of colonists had included designating this part of Southern Settlement a ‘family zone’, which meant that however ready to mingle, as a single I was no longer welcome. Stable job at the shuttleport notwithstanding, I might be a bad influence on the kids, apparently. Admin had directed me to shift over to a brand new sector, where the lots were set aside for the unmarried. After I’d got past the initial annoyance, it didn’t sound too bad; it might even be fun to be around like-minded solos.

Once my one-up/one-down cube was finally levitating, clouds were beginning to gather; it looked like one of the planet’s legendary thunderstorms was brewing. Hygeia’s atmosphere isn’t quite Earth-like, and electrical discharges tend to the spectacular; getting caught outside would be a bad idea.

I used magnetic clamps to connect hawsers to the unit’s corners, and attached them to the back of my six-wheeler. The overpowered beast then declined to start. Of course. Another 20 minutes with the toolkit fixed the wiring problem, and I was (finally) ready to roll!

Fortunately, afternoon shift change was still a while off. I pulled my hovering trailer across town through deserted streets, keeping a wary eye on the sky. Finding my space was easy; there was a gap in a row of mini-dwellings that had already been installed by people evidently more organised than I was. I nudged my home gently over the waiting baseplate (which might or might not sink later), and killed the antigrav. Then I ran around linking it up to the utility net.

The wind was picking up by the time I finished, a sure sign the storm was well on the way. But I’d made it, and would be snug in my own nest before it arrived. Tomorrow, new people, and new challenges. I smiled, and headed indoors.