Oct 28, 2021 9:29 AM
fabbell and crystalcrab lucy in the 'verse
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"What's the matter on the Rim, exactly?"

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"The Core was terraformed first," he explains. "Some of the planets out on the Rim haven't been finished yet, and the people who live there tend not to be as wealthy as Core-worlders, because the kinds of people who are willing to colonize a half-terraformed planet tend to be the desperate. Which means people take Rim-worlders less seriously, in general, and there's a lot of exploitation." 

"Hence the civil war," Lucy supplies. 

"Yes. That actually ended up making things worse--the Outer Planets lost the war, and now the Core has more of an excuse to crack down." 

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"Is there free migration?"

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"If by free you mean are people allowed to move if they want, then yes. If by free you mean does the government subsidize it, then no--they'll pay to haul colonists out, but if someone on the Rim wants to move back to the Core, they'll have to save up for a ticket, and then of course housing is more expensive in the Core worlds than on the Rim." 

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"Mm. What kind of exploitation are we talking about?"

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"I think the worst case I've personally heard of is Higgins' Moon. The entire moon is owned by Higgins, who owns a mud farm for clay making. Everyone, or nearly everyone, who lives there is an indentured servant, forced to work long hours for low pay."

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"And there's no system-wide controls on that sort of thing?"

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He makes a so-so gesture. "Indentured servitude is legal. There are probably workers' protection laws he's not following the spirit of, but I wouldn't be shocked if he's got lawyers ready to argue that he's following the letter of them. Even if he's not, law enforcement in the Rim is wildly inconsistent. In big cities on fully-terraformed worlds like this one, sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if Higgins' Moon sees law enforcement officers less often than once every few months, and probably when they do show up it's not too hard for Higgins to make sure nobody talks to them who's going to say anything he doesn't like." 

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"That does sound tricky. How expensive and how time-consuming is it to get from rock to rock?"

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"The two trade off, to an extent. If you need to get where you're going as soon as possible and you have the money, you can be on a ship immediately and get to another planet in the Kalidasa system in a few days or elsewhere in the 'verse in a few weeks. If you're willing to wait around for cheaper transport, it can be anywhere from days to months before something suitable shows up, but it wouldn't cost more than a couple hundred credits." 

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"Is the journey itself slower in the second case?"

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"Not necessarily, but probably."

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"How good are ships at spotting other ships. Or non-ship objects in space." 

"Pretty good? You don't want to get into collisions." 

"Point against going around under my own power, then." 

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"Can you give us a sense how far local currencies go in terms other than ship trips?"

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"I would expect a grocery run for a family of four for a week to cost about a hundred credits. A university education will cost you several thousand credits," he says thoughtfully. 

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"Several thousand, not tens of thousands?"

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"A university education in the Core will cost you tens of thousands," he amends. "The university here will cost you less than ten thousand if you're only going for a bachelor's degree and nothing more advanced."

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"Okay, I guess I'll go with the mental conversion of 'a credit is about a dollar' till something suggests otherwise. And platinum?"

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"Plat to credit conversion varies some--some places won't take credit at all; most places in the Core won't take plat as currency, although you can sell it for the metal. Ships are more likely to take credit than most places on the Rim because credit doesn't have mass to haul around, but they'll often take plat, too, to have some somewhere that won't take credits. Usually places that'll take both will take them at a rate of five plat to two credits."

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"All right." She writes that down. "Do you have a guess how far my ability to make pearls and such will get me?"

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He considers this. 

"Depends," he says slowly. "Firstly, if you continue selling pearls in any given place the value of pearls will drop, of course. Second, not every place is going to have a use for pearls--the fact that they'd theoretically be valuable in a big city isn't much use if you nor anybody you know will ever go to one, and the only traders who connect you to them would cheat you given the chance. But those places will probably buy seeds, if you can sell them seeds for plants they don't have yet that'll grow well in the climate available. My biggest concern is that word will get out that you in particular keep selling pearls and such and either some Alliance officer gets it into their head that you obtained them illegally or a crime lord scoops you up wanting your source." 

"What kinds of tactics are crime lords likely to use? I'm pretty confident of my ability to defend us physically, but I haven't been here long enough to know what else they could do to us." 

He sucks on his teeth. "Well, as long as they don't know that, they probably won't try anything too esoteric...a fairly standard kidnapping attempt is what I would expect to start."

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"I'm probably somewhat proof against a standard kidnapping attempt too but this does mean Xander shouldn't be without one of us."

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"I mean, even if you do get kidnapped, we'll get you back," she says, patting his hand. "Even if you get murdered, I'm around, so it's not so bad." 

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"You really know how to reassure a guy."

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