[Hannah Fitzgerald joined the United Nations Settlement Program shortly after graduating college. This interview was conducted by another settler, an amateur journalist.]
All good? All set up?
-Yeah, go ahead.
Right. Ok. I came out of college with a bachelors in electrical engineering and ten thousand dollars in debt. Things were rough for a while, trying to find an actual job that used my degree because the economy is absolute garbage. Worked retail for a while; that was a fuckin’ nightmare.
-You’re absolutely correct, but could we, uh…
Right. Sorry. One day this here spaceship arrived. In the beginning there was a lot of running around with our heads cut off. Then things settled down. ISS confirmed the station was manned, NATO made first contact, all that. ‘Course, they were all “we can neither confirm nor deny”, but we all knew. Life went on, for a while. Until it didn’t. UN came out and said we, humanity, were going up. Life on a spaceship. Say hi to the new neighbors, and all. The world went a bit crazy at that. I joined up, but I guess that was pretty obvious, huh?
-Why did you join up?
In all honesty, it was a whole bunch of reasons. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say I, or we, whatever, felt a sort, I don’t know, call? Does that make sense? Everyone wanted to be someone, do something. Make a mark on history, you know?
Of course, that wasn’t all. If you were gonna go to space and maybe never come back, Uncle Sam or your country’s equivalent was gonna make it worth your while. All that college debt went away. I know that was a big draw for a lot of people. Even without that, I would have signed up. I bet most would say the same. I mean, come on. We’ll be the generation that met aliens. Who’d want to miss out on that adventure?
-We haven’t met aliens yet, though.
Fair enough, but, like, it’s gonna happen eventually. Let’s be real here. We know they’re up here with us. We’ve seen the ship; there’s how many rings, again? Seven?
Right, and each ring has, what, six sectors? That’s a ton of space. And humanity is only using a few of the sectors. I know that, like, officially, we’re all in this together with it being the UN settlement program and all, but let’s be real here. A lotta things are on the national level. But we know we’re not alone up here. There’s gotta be a ton of them. Where are they? What are they doing? Makes you wonder, right?
-Do you mind talking a little bit about life on The Station? For prosperity?
Yeah, of course. Do you want, uh, a little background first?
So, uh, the UN established the United Nations Settlement Program with the goal of, well, getting a foothold where interstellar travel and talking with aliens and stuff is concerned. I got in as ‘essential personnel’, that’s stuff like doctors, farmers, engineers, etc. We get paid a little more and get a little more responsibility but that’s about it. Then there’s, well, everyone else. You applied, and if passed you were entered into a lottery pool. If your name was drawn, you went up. Not a perfect system, but not the worst. Then you were assigned a sector, you’ll probably be with people from your own country, but at the very least you’ll speak the same language. Within the first 24 hours you’ll have shelter and the water reclaimer set up, after that comes long-term goals like setting up hydroponics and generators so you don’t have to rely on MREs and bicycling to keep yourself fed and the lights on. Then you explore the sector, which doesn’t take too long. So you keep an eye out for alien wildlife, and you wait. You exercise to keep your bone mass up, and you wait. You make friends with your fellow settlers, and you wait. You get regular med checks to make sure you don’t have space-cancer, and you wait. You read the manuals the UN puts out, and you wait. You give an interview to the sector’s news station, and you wait. Like...we know there’s aliens up here on the station with us. They know we’re here. I heard that someone knocked on the sector door and got a knock in response. Sometimes you can hear machinery rumbling. Like, I know learning how to talk to aliens is complicated, but, like...fuck!
-Indeed, it is ‘like fuck.’
God, don’t say it like that. But still. We all came up here for an adventure, to meet aliens, and all we’re doing is sitting around. It’s just...frustrating, you know?