Port Galileo was one of the oldest settlements on Ganymede and currently the
largest. The city sat on a cratered plain on the leading side of the moon,
with Jupiter forever on the west horizon. Like all Jovian moon
settlements, it was mostly underground, protected from the cold and radiation by
tons of regolith.
With one eye closed, Walker watched the landing on the shuttle's public repeater. The vertical landing craft hovered into position above a flattened dome whose eight teeth-like segments peeled back to reveal a sunken yellow-lit landing bay. The pilot nailed the landing, hardly sending a shiver through the hull, and the platform retracted as the dome sealed above them.
The five landing pads weren't far from the main settlement areas. They walked down a long rounded corridor marked "Sky Dome", past several blast doors, faded wall advertisements and assorted hawkers into a large metal and plastic lobby ringed with ramps and tubes.
Walker watched the crowds. The proportion of people with Benson's Syndrome was lower than had been fifteen years before, but the signs of poverty still remained. On Mars, most people had access to good health care and cosmetic biosculpting. The "ugly" Martians he'd met or seen were that way out of choice. At Port Galileo, many in the crowd had blemished faces, scars, weight problems, even crude cybernetic limbs.
It reminded him of Earth. He'd grown up in Mombasa. The city itself, like so many island metropolises before it: New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, was wealthy enough, a jewel of high-rises, bridges and docks rising amidst a mainland of industrial and residential regions, slowly fading to farmland and ring roads. But in his youth, he'd traveled north of the equator, and there, the chaos and destruction of the Succession War had never healed. Along the Sahel and up the Nile, cities, shanties and villages sprouted from ruins and wasted farmlands. He'd seen hunger and disease and deformity much worse than even the most remote Solar outpost. Of course, had any distant settlement suffered the collapse that still affected large portions of the Earth, everyone would have died long ago. There were places like that, he knew, dead settlements from the Belt to the Kuiper, some abandoned, others silent tombs. There were even some like that on Ganymede and the other Jovian moons. He'd seen them.
--26 April 2519, Port Galileo, Ganymede.
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by Geir Lanesskog, All Rights Reserved