For now, though, there is kilometer after kilometer of lifeless, rocky wasteland. You could call it the badlands, or as we say the Inhab; Inhabitable Zone. The mind does tend to wander out here, with nothing new to see. Blue sky is a blessing, at least we have that in common with Old Earth, but otherwise brown and tan is the whole landscape before us.
The thrumming of the engine and the occasional whoosh of wind outside the truck; the tinny stream of country-western coming from the radio, we're not completely hopeless after all. The atmo out here is, of course, barely breathable. That's why we wear the sup-ox respirators outside. We are still in the microbial genus of the terraformation process, after all. Which is to say, you could last a few hours at most outside, at which point you'd begin to dream. If you're lucky, you might be able to shake it off, get up and locate some supplementary oxygen, but that's only if you're lucky.
In the Inhab, you have to bring your sup-ox. The familiar band of habitable atmo that surrounds the equator, the Habzo, is where civilization, such as it is, can flourish. The climate around the planet's midriff, if you will, is breathable. That's the stage of T-formation we live in; barring the occasional storm passing though, bringing CO2 in its wake, like a plague, only less biological and more fundamental.
Our field trucks are atmosealed, thank god, so we can breathe easy inside. But there is no lock, so the second you open the door, all that sweet oxy dissipates into the atmo.
Maintenance supplies are routed regularly to the HVAT-25 Atmospheric Scrubbers; it’s our job to get it there; lucky us! But at least it’s better than the alternative. It's totally stupid, but if we let our contract slip, then the republicans will be able to claim our hold as territory of the Republic, god forbid! Those loonies would have us all hup-tooing their progressive line before the day grew long!
No, we had a contract, a contract with the original colonial authority, not whatever passes for a CA these days.
I mean, who in hell do those jokers think they are, Nu-Mars Republic; like they don't even know how to spell 'new', WTF bastards! Uniting the free-holds into a unified political body…F-them!
We were here long before they ever showed up, and we'll be here long after they’ve sucked their last molecule of CO2 in the street, or I'm not a free-holder by the grace of god the almighty!
Still... legally, the charter is the only thing between us and total assimilation, so we had better maintain our seventeen HVATs, or the breach of contract will give the Nu-Mars Republic all the legal ammunition it needs to seize our hold, and all of us with it, to become shiny new citizens in their new utopian paradigm; not that 'legal' is the only ammunition it would take.
Thanks for looking!