CH. 58 «University of Mars, Caspian»

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The sun shone mightily on the Caspian campus of the University of Mars. It was as glorious and warm as it had been since the end of gorking February, when the weather began to lay into us with so many consecutive belligerently sunny and fair days.

Today, it was still obscenely pleasant outside from the first touches of dawns rosy fingers. The top of the taller buildings which I could see towering above the rest of campus were ablaze where the sun struck the more reflective materials of their exteriors, gleaming above the poor unsuspecting body of students. They had no idea that today was the day I would come to count them where they lived.

Well, anyone who failed to mail in the archaic paper census questionnaire on time, that is. And everyone got one, I was part of a process that made sure at least the dormers on campus here did, and I know there where hundreds of others involved in making sure everyone had the means of getting counted, whether their prerogative was to return it in a timely fashion to us or not. It wasn’t even 3 weeks after the so-called Census Day before they compiled the list, which we are each tediously following up on, one page at a time. So it’s not like any of them are in trouble, if anything I’m glad they didn’t get their forms back in on time, more work for us!

The other enumerators and I set forth upon the campus as representatives of the government’s department of commerce. Redundant verbatim instruction worked well enough to train us, and those who excelled the most during that process were promoted to an assisting position in the crew. I just so happened to be one of those who demonstrated the ability to perform the duties of the job above the average employee. It’s not hard to get promoted within the short lived decennial census, though.

It was an amazing opportunity for myself, I thought, to be working on grounds belonging to one of the most prestigious schools on Mars, and one of the most reputable institutions for science in Sol. I could only dream to attain the patience and scholarly discipline required to attend this school, let alone complete enough general education sections somewhere else to not have to see myself stuck at this expensive place for more than seven years. This may have been my only chance to get the feel for some of the collegian lifestyle I missed out on in my attempts to find life in other places.

I drove and parked where the students did, ate and shopped where the students did, and tuned into the local stations that the students did. Sure, I wasn’t taking notes in a lecture class or cramming the morning before an exam, but I was already experiencing a student’s life vicariously through Gerund. Rushing to drop him off and pick him up from his classes on time and having him share with me whatever theories he was learning about or make up on his own during discussions, and feeling the burden of his undergrad homework load was as close as yours truly would care to come to the worries of being a university student. When I’m back on Earth I’ll have to jam myself back into that kind of life. This job will be taking up most of my time for now.

I was safe underneath the shade of great eucalyptus trees as I strolled through the campus’s titanic central park. I really wished I could stick around and lounge beneath their bows as the warm sunlight and fresh ocean breeze stirred up the arbor spirits on this fine morning. But I couldn’t soak in nature all day, or even relish in the aroma of moist ground and clay, I had to be on my way to the professor housing units on the other side of the university. At least I had enough time to inspect all the blips that popped up through the park.

These botanical gardens I strolled happened to be the center of the campus, so there were many mapspots that contained general information on historical and present statistics on the whole school, as well as interesting geopoints or pictures taken that people had tagged at locations in and around the park. I pointed my texti at what I assumed was the dead midpoint of the circle, and like a magic lens, the app revealed the giant plume that marked the main entry on the University of Mars, Caspian.

This institute was founded in 2265. It’s one of the 10 campuses of the University of Mars in Amazonia, but unlike its sisters, Caspian isn’t named after its host city—because it didn’t exist before the college. It was instead named after their benefactor, the Caspian Company, who donated 400 hectares and sold UM another 200 HA of colony land in 2259. I suspected the company also had their hand in the design and construction of the revolutionary campus.

When I aimed my texti to the left of where I was headed, a large blurb showed up on the first community outside the boundaries of university grounds, which confirmed a few things. It said that after his part in the construction of UMC, the grand designer of The Caspian Company collaborated with the school’s staff to produce the Caspian Colony Master Plan. It laid out what to do with the rest of Gams’ colony, and helped to develop whatever land the company owned into the cities of Caspian, Nuport Beach, Nuport Coast and Rustin. Until 40 years ago, none of this coastline habitation really existed. The Real OC isn’t on the south coast at all.

I’d reached the end of the park and climbed a set of futuristic cement stairs to a group of instructional buildings. Another blurb, emerging from what the app labeled as the Engineering Complex, which was closer to where I was supposed to be walking, told me that UMC was the largest employer in Olympus County, and responsible for over 4 billion credits of economic impact, or something. A link leading to another entry explained that the other top two where my favorite aeronautics company, with two major production facilities in SoAm, and my least favorite entertainment empire, with their multitude of theme parks, studios and stations in the area. But I had gotten distracted again.

It truly is a great app, but I could see it’s a really nerfed build compared to what I expected would be an astro program in 3D on a COG or even just a touchi. I wouldn’t have been able to get it without my credits from this job, and began wondering Should I just put a part of my next paycheck aside to invest in a really nice comm for myself? But that’s a path for a different day; I can’t go that way with all the things I have to do and places to be.

A yellow arrow bounced on the side of my screen and indicated the waypoint I had set a few minutes before, to mark my next destination It was curiously way off to the right. I’d apparently still been walking in the wrong direction, as my ETA began rising while I read up on the school I diplomatically strode across. I turned until my texti revealed the giant glowing golden beam reaching into the sky from the point, and resumed traveling on a corrected heading.
I contemplated having my own handheld assistive lightshow as I hurried down a student crowded corridor and back to work. I wouldn’t have gotten so off track with a larger screen. Maybe I really do need a smartcomm, I thought.

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PREV: CH. 57 «The Caspian Company»

PREV: CH. 57 «The Caspian Company»

NEXT: CH. 59 «The City of Caspian»

NEXT: CH. 59 «The City of Caspian»


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