As Bifrost approached Mars, I gathered my few belongings and headed back to the docking terminals. My passage ate nearly all my funds, but it hardly mattered. The currencies of Earth had little value on Mars. But when I first saw the shuttles approaching I couldn't believe it. Martian shuttle were much larger than anything I'd seen at Earth. The shuttles I'd flown and even the largest shuttles on Bifrost could hold twelve TEU of cargo or about 240 tons net cargo. These monstrosities could hold forty TEU and a couple of dozen passengers each.
I know the lower Martian orbital velocity helped a lot, but it was more than that. These ships had on-board fusion plants and real plasma drives, not the oversized thrusters I was used to. The shuttles could probably survive an interplanetary crossing if they had to, something I was glad I didn't try on the Batian. I'd have died for sure.
But now I had a bigger worry. Those skills I was so proud of, those skills that had gotten me off Earth and saved my life, they suddenly looked pretty obsolete. Even the most liberal Lunae Planum city-states weren't exactly the embodiment of social welfare states, especially to semi-legal immigrants.
But it was far too late to worry about that. I floated down the passageway, past inbound containers, into the maw of the docked shuttle.
--Excerpt from notes of Walker Tsume's unpublished memoirs, early twenty-sixth century.
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