A scientist reverses aging, a mega company took over the rights. What could go wrong?
Like every human on Earth-proper Sumer spent many a night staring up at Tranquility, imagining what it would be like to live on a world with every, conceivable luxury and elegance money could buy. Not that she wanted to extend her life…living for three thousand years was incomprehensible to her. That sort of lifespan only made sense, if you had unlimited funds to keep you busy, which she didn’t.
Tranquility wasn’t the only man-made world around Earth-proper, but it was the only one catering exclusively to the wealthy and elite. And it was the only one you had to buy a life extension to live on; even the limited working staff servicing the elite had extended lives. The waiting list for service crews were quite extensive; in fact most of the names on the list will be too old or passed by the time a position opens. That’s why the waiting list is so extensive, each new generation adds their names to the list hoping against hope they’ll get called while they’re still young enough to be considered.
Sumer left her hover craft moving into the rocket center. Walking along the expansive corridor to the launch area, she smoothed her jacket and skirt with nervous energy. Passenger rockets bound for the five floating world’s viva the moon launch everyday…but she’d never been on one.
Sumer stopped walking, swallowing in an effort to lessen her nervous jitters. She stepped in front of a holo displaying the five floating worlds, so as not to disrupt the flow of people moving toward the rocket platform. She gave the holo narrator her complete attention.
“The term floating worlds is misleading; the worlds are actually in a secure orbit around the sun, maintaining the same passage of time and calendar as Earth. The worlds are held in place by something called graviods.”
The first man-made world, Titian grew in size on the holo screen, showing details of the massive world. “Titian was a government funded world project, in an effort to relieve the overcrowding on Earth-proper. Twenty percent of the population granted domiciles on this new world had special skills needed to maintain the floating world; the other eighty percent consisted of volunteers, brave individuals willing to risk all for the good of mankind.”
Sumer snorted at the narrated voice, “A nice sentiment, but the truth is most of the eighty percent just wanted to escape the horrid conditions of earth,” She mumbled.
"Solairs came next," the narrator continued. "Solairs was created by a conglomerate of mainstream companies purely for profit. Solairs is mostly a home for the wealthy, but as with Titian a percent of its population had specialist skills that landed them a dream home on a dream world. Solairs boasted vast waterways with breath-taking waterfalls scattered across its considerably large surface…Solairs was twice the size of Titian. Another advantage of Solairs over Titian was completely unforeseen; the vast amount of water vapors created by the sheer volume of waterfalls gave Solairs a singularly spectacular sunrise and sunset."
The holo changed to show massive corporate offices of the investors. "After the success of Solairs, the companies involved moved from heavy-weight contenders in the money markets to corporate entities of the likes never seen before; everyone wanted in on the action. Companies lined up to be a part of the next floating world and everyday folks flooded universities for specialized training hoping to earn a spot on the next floating world project. Soon anyone living on earth-proper was considered unenlightened or stuck in the past."
Two floating worlds of spectacular size and splendor grew on the holo screen. "As could be expected with so many investors, two worlds were created at once, surpassing everyone’s imagination, Mount Olympus and Apollo. One was a floating fortress of geological wonders and spectacular views, with no luxury spared; the other a more modest world, of farms and factories, with affordable homes for the modest family."
Large crowds of finely dressed moneyed men flashed the screen. "Investors hoping for big profits from Mount Olympus met with great disappointment. Most of the truly wealthy were already ensconced on Solairs and they didn’t want to move; eventually the homes sold for a fraction of the asking price; if not for the success of the Apollo, the venture would have been remembered as a complete failure. And the great drive to build floating worlds fell away."
DNA strands with Markus Serealium's face superimposed over them covered the screen. "Until Markus Serealium successfully mapped the aging gnomes in our DNA, his scientific break-through allowed him to suspend aging. He could actually enhance a lifespan by thousands of years. Of course the government immediately outlawed age enhancements.
Enhanced aging would plunge earth right back into the over-crowding that took years of research, trillions of dollars and two floating worlds to relieve."
A very stern and stubborn looking man materialized on the screen. "Hugh Headman didn’t think the government should have the right to decide how long people could live. So he used his considerable fortune to build the last floating world, The Isle of Tranquility."
The Isle grew larger than life on the screen. "As a privately owned and funded world, the government of earth-proper couldn’t enact laws on The Isle of Tranquility, and she began receiving her first inhabitants, Millennium Club members. For a very high price anyone can have their lifespan altered, the only catch…they have to live on the Isle. And to live on the Isle requires a yearly maintenance and membership fee. Hugh was a business man after all; he didn’t spend his fortune without expectations of a return."
“Hugh Headman, what a peach,” I said before falling back into the flow of commuters. I gazed up at the glowing globes in the sky. On planet they were indistinct, like multiple moons but hazier. Selecting an aisle seat in the center row, I buckled in, and tilted my seat back for launch. A holo spanning the seating section played on a continues loop, explaining what to expect during launch, but I never let my gaze stray from the glowing globes revealed by the observation window, directly overhead. It wasn’t really a window but rather a screen displaying the space outside the rocket.
You could tell the seasoned travelers, from others like myself, they deactivated their screens. I watched captivated as the shimmer of the floating worlds transformed into globes. What appeared as a shimmer from earth proper was really a force-field protecting the worlds from flying debris and radiation. The worlds were actually carefully built terrains on flat disks placed in the center of the shimmering force-field. Beyond the shimmer, I saw the straight lines and angels of man-made objects. My mind gave the objects, shape long before I could really see any detail. Mountains rose and I wondered if I was looking at Mount Olympus or Solairs, they both have mountains.