Take to the Stars Episode Seven: Anastasia Xu

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2017 By Tatiora

Anastasia XuFrom the desk of Anastasia Xu
Heiress of the Asteroid Syndicate

Everyone comes to Mars with grandiose ideas. Booming businesses, second chances, a new life…

Me? I came to Mars because I was bored. 

Everyone always talks about how difficult it is to run a business. Frankly, I think they’re simply missing the ease of it. Hire competent people and demand that they do their jobs. You shouldn’t have to lift a finger to do anything once you get the pieces in place properly. Throwing a bunch of money at it doesn't hurt, either.

Perhaps it’s that first step that eludes them. Everyone keeps saying I’ve come here to prove myself, but they couldn’t be further from the truth; I already have everything I could possibly want. Why should I bother seeking their approval?

This really is an unsavory place. A prison planet, one where civilization sends the undesirable rabble and sequesters them away so they don’t have to deal with them. Fortunately for me, my business model means I don’t have to, either -- I have robots for all of that.

I paid Yoshimi a handsome amount to ensure that these contraptions could do everything necessary to carry out day-to-day operations. Their high level of functioning intelligence meant that they could communicate and facilitate trades with the economy, and all I had to do was watch. 

It started simply enough. I spread out my empire and laid claim to whatever valuable plots of resources I could find. We began to produce large amounts of steel -- it’s funny, the phrase “behind iron bars.” The iron makes steel, sure, but it’s really an outdated expression. In fact, the methods themselves are outdated - shouldn’t we be into laser-powered force-field shielded cells or something by now? It’s all quite primitive.

My father once told me not to get too embroiled in bidding wars for things. Commit just enough to force the other interested parties to spend their money, then pull back and let them buy it. You can just take it back from them when you buy out their assets later.

I don’t play that way, though. If something is on the market and I want it, it is mine, no questions asked and no price tag considered. One of those obnoxious little tin-can workers tried to supply me with the math behind the financial risks; irritating as it was, I had to give credit to Yoshimi for the thorough programming.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, my faith in Yoshimi Robotics was misplaced. The sheer cost of powering the robots and my facility was proving to be too much. Debt flowed in at a pace I’d never before seen. I re-routed what power I could and tried to continue producing my steel and electronics, but it wasn’t enough. 

A man named Ezra Song and his Penrose Collective started to overtake my business dealings with the colony. Despite several under-the-table payments made to bookkeepers, my debt prevented me from purchasing any worthwhile assistance. Those robots couldn’t keep up with the change, their algorithms weren’t enough, and before long - I received a letter from the colony stating that my contract was under review.

Under review? That wasn’t the only thing they’d be reviewing. I may be in debt now, but that won’t last - I will pull myself out of this and prove to everyone that I am not one to be underestimated. I want to make them suffer, to drive their businesses into the ground and take all of the profits for me. I want to prove myself to them.

And I always get what I want.

Take to the Stars Episode Six: Reni-6

Posted on Monday, September 11, 2017 By Tatiora


Recorded by Reni-6
Worker - Yoshimi Robotics

This recording is for recordkeeping and posterity. If our mission should fail and our circuits are taken offline, our creators will know what went wrong. I am called Reni-6 and I have been in charge of overseeing development efforts here on Mars.

My primary creation function is to aid the colony by building up and supplying resources to fit the needs of the humans residing there. My counterpart, Joji-5, said something about domination, but that simply is not in my programming. I am here to help humanity, not hurt it! Joji-5 called me something rude when I said that; it also is not within my programming to repeat it.

The first few days on Mars were slow. I spent time assessing the needs of the colony before inputting built sites and coordinates into the supercomputer. In order to provide for them, my priority was finding a satisfactory aluminum deposit, an effort which was foiled by another recent arrival to the planet, one Mikhail Nekrov. 

My attention was forced to shift on claiming other resources. Yoshimi robotics is one of the pioneers of geothermal plant power technology, so establishing one of those quickly was easy. Unfortunately, one thing that escapes my programming is financial balancing - the debt we accrued in the first week was quite unexpected and made it difficult to obtain loans for expansion. 

It was suggested that perhaps seeking the assistance of some “unsavory” sorts would allow me to alter ledgers to let us appear more credible. Apparently my assurance of being credible was without weight. No matter. You don’t make friends with vinegar! least, I think that is how the saying goes.

Once power generation reached an optimum capacity, the debt was negligible. We began to pull in more money than we put out, which allowed us to produce more for the colony. This made me - I believe the human term is - happy. 

On Mars, it is not enough to focus on your own enterprises. Apparently, it is ineffective if you neglect to look at everyone else’s around you, because they don’t stop looking at yours. One of the other businesspersons trying to sell to the colony caused a worker mutiny in one of our factories by hacking and overriding our circuits. 

Were I capable of feeling emotion, I believe I would have been angry. Quick action allowed us to regain control of our factory and continue producing valuable oxygen for the colony, and taught us to be weary of others who would prove to be competition to us.

Core samples taken from the soil around us revealed some excellent iron deposits that allowed us to keep up with steel production. Our monopoly on electronics also proved to grant us an advantage over the others.

Coming to Mars was not a choice for me. It was my given mission, my purpose - and while I am here, I will fulfill it until I cannot any longer.


Take to the Stars Episode Five: Ilana Kamat

Posted on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 By Tatiora

Ilana Kamat

From the desk of Ilana Kamat
New Meridian Scientist - Lead Research Developer

My current analysis of the situation is - it could be worse.

Sure, it could also be a hell of a lot better, but it definitely could be worse.

They call space the final frontier, but I personally think that it’s only the beginning, a stepping stone to greater things and larger horizons. There are plenty of people who think that this is as far as we’ll ever go, and that’s fine by me - let them think that.

It will be that much more surprising when we prove them wrong.

I’ll admit, Mars is still a frightening place, despite what time I’ve taken to acclimate. Knowing that many of my colleagues died here during the disaster doesn’t make it any easier.

What makes it worse is that we still don’t fully understand why. 

These somber thoughts most certainly cause me to court caution whenever I consider forging further ahead in the name of science, but still, progress doesn’t push itself...which is why I’m here.

I would prefer to devote all of my time to researching and sleuthing out what happened to the other scientists, but the colony here has needs. More importantly, if I’m to continue my research effectively, I will need an adequate source of funding. It seems that I can aid both the colony and my cause by establishing a business that will supply them with many of the goods they need to expand and thrive.

Isidis Planitia

My team is small, but determined. We chose to settle in Isidis Plantitia; due to its limited resources and hard-to-reach location, we expected that we would face less competition here. The nearby colony has a monopoly on power production, which is a minor nuisance since they control the price as well as the supply. Still, we begin to set up our facilities and look into some early expanding.

Our biggest obstacle was obtaining water. My team lacks someone with the knowledge of water pump setup and maintenance, which made it difficult for us to gain enough for life support as well as development. Others who have come to Mars drove the price up so high that we had to abandon the idea of building anything that would require large amounts; instead, we bought what we could afford in order to keep ourselves hydrated, then focused our attentions elsewhere.

I’ve always taken pride in my team. In fact, I hand-selected many of them. We all worked hard, developing new technology for the betterment of all, ourselves and the colony included. I never would have imagined any of them turning their backs on what I -- what we -- had built, but it happened. A man named Paulo Rubini managed to bribe one of my scientists, who signed over two of our precious patents.

While this set us back more than I cared for, what it really did... was make me angry. Quietly moving off to a corner to research and develop wasn’t going to be permitted, not here -- not with these people. If that was the case, then I would rise to the occasion. 

Silicon was scarce and all of the competent miners had already been hired by my competition. But, a few discovered carbon deposits put me in a position where I was able to produce chemicals that no one else was able to provide. My refusal to sell to them and instead only to the colony drove prices up to a place where I was able to make a tidy profit.

But, this was only the start. If Rubini and the others wanted to compete in such a manner and disregard the importance of scientific advancement, then so be it.

I am ready to rise to the challenge of their ignorance.

Take to the Stars Episode Four: Paulo Rubini

Posted on Monday, August 28, 2017 By Tatiora

Paulo Rubini

They underestimated me. They always underestimate me.

I didn’t have one of the most successful real estate businesses in the state of California for nothing, you know. Coming to Mars was an easy choice - the colonies here would absolutely need someone with an eye for development, an eye for the long term goal - and that’s me.


I had offers from all over, of course, but the Russians always provided the best benefits. They had me settle on Thaumasia Planum, which certainly didn’t look like much at first, but I knew I would fix that before long.

 Thaumasia Planum

Some others thought to set up shop around the same time I did. I think they assumed that just because I move a little more slowly than they do that they’d have the advantage on me. And I guess I can’t blame them for making that mistake - after all, for awhile I was paying out my ears for some of the supplies I needed that I just didn’t have access to. 

Our location of choice didn’t have a lot in the way of resources, frankly. We had to jump through lots of hoops to get by. Funny thing about hoops, though, is that they’re awfully distracting - none of the others noticed the silicon mines I founded after locating a couple of rare deposits. I was doubling my profits in a matter of days and selling supplies to the colony hand over fist. I’m pretty sure the others found it exceptionally difficult to keep operations profitable without the silicon to make the glass they needed in order to expand. I’d say I was sorry about it, but that wouldn’t be truthful, and I’m an honest man.


Even my former intern, Maisie, was surprised. Either that means I've managed to keep up the element of surprise all these years, or it means she just never paid attention when things were important. Still, the kid seems to have a good head on her shoulders and definitely keeps me on my toes, so there's got to be potential in there somewhere. Now that the rest of the competition have seen what I'm capable of, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get by with fooling them as easily for here on out. 

Which is fine by me... I've got quite a few more tricks up my sleeve yet.



Take to the Stars Episode Three: Frank Dawson

Posted on Monday, August 21, 2017 By Tatiora

From the desk of Frank Dawson
Foreman - Reclamation, INC.

Sometimes, I wonder why I ever came to this bleedin’ rock.

Then I remember I didn’t really have a choice. I made the most of it, though, and it beats rotting away in that prison. Come to Mars and make a new life for yourself is what all the slogans said. I didn’t really believe any of ‘em, but I guess I have to admit I was wrong. 


It’s hard watching the money roll in knowin’ that it’s just goin’ straight to the collector. Sure was dumb of me, rooting myself into debt like that, but… a man’s gotta do what he’s gotta for his family. Which is why I’m here now.

Only reason I’m recordin’ this crap is because they told me I needed to keep track of progress. Loada bull if you ask me, what they really should be lookin’ at are results. But, whatever.

I started by pickin’ out a spot in Nirgal Vallis. Solis Planuum didn’t have any carbon and the boys decided it wasn’t a great place to try and make cash for ourselves. I trust ‘em and their instincts. We ran into problems when we couldn’t get the contractors we needed, though. We’ve got a lot of great workers among us, but we can’t run everything ourselves. 

Since we couldn’t get a farmer or a chemical engineer, we went for an...alternative approach. Don’t much like dealing with pirates, but sometimes when you can’t make what you need, you go to someone who can get it for you instead.

We scouted a spot with plenty of carbon. Of course, it was right in the middle of a crater, so that made building it a real pain, but at least there was some water close by. The team’s geologist told me that this place used to be a riverbed. Didn’t feel like it, though, since there wasn’t much other water to be found for miles.

This fancy lady showed up in an orbital tower last week. I heard Rubini call her the ‘princess of the ivory tower’ once, which sounded pretty dumb to me. I was surprised to see her, since I thought she was makin’ her business on Io, but it turns out that the chemical processing was a lot more lucrative for her here. Much as I wanted to compete, I didn’t have the carbon - or the engineers - to keep up with chemicals.

Everyone says they’re here to help the colony - it’s a loada propaganda bull. They’re here the same as me - to make cash off ‘em. If I can, I’ll take advantage of makin’ cash off the others, too. The water monopoly I managed to hold the first couple of weeks on this damn rock were worth the investment. Water’s hard to get, but everyone needs it. I shared to the tune of about a $600k profit. Not too shabby, really.

Anyway, tired of wastin’ time recording this instead of doin’ work that needs doin’. Mars wasn’t my first choice for a business op, but I guess it’s turnin’ out to be pretty profitable for me and Reclamation.

And if I have anythin’ to say about it, it’ll stay that way.



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