Book 3.5 – Log Entry #51: Changes
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Special thanks to tarakis for proofreading the chapter.

They had defaced my ship!

OK, that may be a small exaggeration since I did it myself, but that was just because I was… a bit greedy? In all fairness, it was Emma’s idea and I reluctantly agreed to it. Then I saw a way to make a deal of the century, so I went with it, not thinking of the consequences.

The problem was that for some strange reason many people on Earth didn’t like the idea of a colossal ship hanging over their heads. I’ll admit, it is somewhat understandable, but they had better get used to it as I have even bigger plans for the future.

Emma suggested presenting ourselves with a bit friendlier image, so making a part of the ship facing Earth into a giant billboard sign was what we eventually came up with.

Even a Sherpa on the top of Mount Everest knows about that particular white and red sign, which advertises a certain fizzy drink, so that was our goal.

I chose one of the executives to make an initial pitch, and that was after I did a complete psychological profile on most of the top dogs in the company. Did they like it? You bet your behind they did; they could not believe their luck, especially with a little model of the ship I sent them with their sign on its ass… I mean on the side of the hull facing the planet. And the sheer dimension of the logo made sure that it was officially the biggest commercial billboard... ever. I had the people from the Guinness World Records confirm that. They were even so thoughtful as to send me a plaque attesting to that.

Now, the contract that we signed was a work of art relating to the fine print.

The sign will only be there for a period of five years, but in return, I received all the rights for “making and distribution” of the said drink in space, including the secret formula used that gives its distinctive flavor. (FYI, if you are interested, it is actually a chemical derived from the Coca plant, the same one from which cocaine is made. The secret was the process of extracting the flavor while leaving behind all those highly addictive chemicals that cocaine addicts crave.)

 Besides, the deal I made it possible to exercise that right in perpetuity.

That’s the problem with Earthers, they are too concentrated on one planet, lacking a vision of the future. Moreover, if my production exceeds our demand, I need to sell all the extra stock to them. I had an idea of making it using comet or asteroid ice and selling them all they want for an obscene price per bottle. (Admittedly, it is a gimmick of sorts, since H2O is H2O, no matter its origin, but look at the price of the genuine glacier water at the stores and you’ll get my point.)

The reason they hurried with signing was a leaked story that their rival company had approached me with the same idea. (I wonder who initiated that rumor?) In any case, that is the reason why the Ascension has a mile-long Coca-Cola sign on its hull.

Meanwhile, the Solarian Union population is growing by leaps and bounds, and I don’t just mean with numerous births we had, but the recruiting process is ramping up now that we are out in the open. It’s no wonder since the medical procedures are so beneficial to our citizens, and could be considered as universal health care only we can provide. First, the insertion of a Cerebral Enhancer Implant is an elective procedure that any adult (or a young adult) could apply for, and with it goes a packet of medical nanites to ensure their future health. The CEI we are offering could be regarded as a basic model. It still has features like communication, net browsing, a personal assistant, and whatnots, but it is quite different from the souped-up model Michael, or the inner circle has. Or the specialized ones that members of our slowly growing military personnel are equipped with.

The benefits are easily visible since the nanites were slowly repairing damage every human body naturally acquires over time. Noting to obvious, but their age clock is gradually winding back. In a few years, people will have an option to adjust their biological age as they see fit. I decided that it was too early to enable that option for now since it would raise too many eyebrows on the planet below. So, if you were seventy you would still look your age, you would just be a very spry seventy-year-old with the internals of a much younger person. God forbid if the Earthers figure out we have a fountain of youth in our hands… they would go nuts.

One additional building that I had to build on the Ascension was a bank. I know—me— the man who likes to rant about the evil banks. I mean, electronic ones were OK, especially if we are talking about mine; I make no promises about those that others control… I am different, or at least I strive to be.

The new immigrants wanted a bank they could go into, and do transactions with real people. What was wrong with those Luddites I have no idea, it was far easier to do the whole thing using CEIs, and it was instantaneous. It would seem many people were slaves to their habits; going into the bank was one of them. I guess it made sense if you look at the bank as one more place where people can socialize, especially the older ones.

Well, I built them a bank, and it is nice (if I say so myself). With an ornate entrance, rich marble interior inside, and a human teller who says hello to people, and chit-chat a bit. To tell the truth, the walls (and the elaborate ceiling) are holographic projections, but they show such subtle opulence and style, one feels like he has entered into a church.

As a side fact, all the bankers on good old Earth hate my electronic guts. From its humble beginnings, the Solarian Bank became one of the biggest players in the money business world. Since we accepted all customers (not just our citizens,) the numbers are rising by the thousands—every single day. Add to that all those who opened their accounts with our new ‘OneWorld’ branded phones and those that used the bounty app, and our customer base is skyrocketing by an unprecedented margin.

It is funny, people at first only made small deposits, to test the waters I think. Then, when they saw our advertisements for ‘no fees’ were true, most of them transferred even more money.

A few felt outraged at one peculiarity they did not like. There was no interest in Solarian Bank; if you place a thousand dollars today, then you would get the same amount in ten years, or a hundred. Placing their life-savings in their Solarian Bank accounts doesn’t have an appeal for some people, except for a fact that it is safer there than anywhere else. I know the ‘interest’ thing is something most banks’ practice, but I did not need their money to speculate on the market, so why would I pay them for keeping it. This bank is something I envisioned as a service to humanity, not a way to make myself even richer.

If you do some research online you would be surprised how many banks bankrupted (that is a funny compound word) and couldn’t pay the money back. All due to the various speculations they did with other people’s money. It was nothing more than pure old gambling, dressed in a few fancy words. Then the government had to involve itself and it was an all-around mess, birthed from good old greed. (You will notice that the banks went bankrupt, not the bankers themselves—that says a lot.)

Well, life sure wasn’t boring, and there are always some problems to deal with. I still need to upgrade the transports and to finish one big project that was now beyond Mars orbit, but it is too soon to talk about it right now. Let’s just say that it’s going to be epic.

I can’t wait to see Michael’s reaction when I finally show it to him.

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