The beanstalk hung above the horizon of this stark, airless asteroid like a shining silver thread against the backdrop of the star-sprinkled blackness of space. As I watched, a cargo capsule (almost invisibly small at this distance) slipped from beneath the edge of the main station and began to crawl down the beanstalk in its long descent to Beta's surface. Eventually, like the beanstalk itself, the capsule disappeared against the bright haze of the planet's atmosphere.
The beauty of the view brought a gentle smile to my face. This, I reflected, is one of the bonuses of my job. I am a troubleshooter.
In 2181 a French exploratory squadron discovered a garden world in the Beta Canum Venaticorum system. Within about 25 years, three ESA nations (France, Britain, and Bavaria) had established colonies there. Over the next eight decades all three colonies cooperated in an attempt to adapt the planet to human uses. The Bavarians began extensive mining of their continent's mineral resources. The British created an extensive transportation network between the colonies. France built their colony a beanstalk.
Then came Earth's War of German Reunification. The colonies on Beta Canum began to experience rising tides of nationalism as they jockeyed for power by the judicious use of the world's resources.
But the most valued commodity on Beta Canum is the safe, regular access to orbit granted by the beanstalk. The French have found themselves holding the reins of power on Beta Canum. Tension continues to grow as they seek to consolidate their position and the British and Germans seek to undermine it.
The French control the beanstalk. But a Bavarian built it-and he thinks he's found a problem.
Opportunities are ripe for troubleshooters looking for work.