Posted in Short story

Equal Rights

Monique practically danced home from the post office. After saving for nearly eight months, and not really knowing which way the tribunals would decide the matter, she had sent a check to buy a parcel of land in the new Western Territories expansion. Today the deed came—with her name on it.

Of course there would still be the question of how to get there.  Transportation was another expense. She had been saving for travel, but there was a deadline and it was going to be close. When the treaty was first signed, the government actually gave plots away (not to her, of course) with the only real stipulation that settlers had two years to live on their plot or they would lose it. Considering it takes nearly six difficult months to travel to the Territories, this wasn’t always very easy—especially before the caravans were established.

After regular seasonal caravans began to make the journey, things became considerably easier for settlers. But as more settlers arrived, demand started to outpace supply and the government stopped giving parcels away. They continued to pay for travel vouchers up until recently. Maybe it was a coincidence that free travel stopped at roughly the same time the tribunal made its decision.

A lot of people were opposed to the tribunal’s decision. The news showed daily protests in many major cities. She should not be allowed to own land!

The two year deadline didn’t go away when the purchase contracts became monetary transactions with the government.  Hence the deadline.  Monique had exactly two years to set up a homestead on her land or lose it without refund. More importantly, the tribunal’s ruling would be rendered meaningless.

Being single, she had the option of signing up for the Marriage Registry.  There was no shortage of settlers looking for companionship, and willing to pay the transport of their newfound companion. Property ownership could even be merged.

In the beginning, the Registry was all about starting a family and having children to have more hands and bodies, and to improve your chances of successfully farming the unforgiving and mostly barren lands. Those stipulations were no longer required, and now companionship was the sole reason that the Registry continued.

But Monique didn’t want to get married. To her, that would defeat the entire purpose of becoming a settler. It would undermine everything that she and her counselors had fought for. It’s not that she didn’t like men—she had many who were friends. She had even been known to invite a lover into her bed on occasion, or even to accept their invitations into their beds. She may consider marriage in a few years if she finds the right companion, but now she needed to prove her independence. The entire world was watching.

Monique was to be the very first android to legally own land on terraformed Mars.

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