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The Real Estate Agent
by Jorge Shaft



It's important to have real estate on Earth. The old home world was now the centre of the Human Republic, the umbrella organisation ostensibly responsible for the protection, representation and spread of humanity across the stars, with over a hundred thousand planets, asteroid habitats, moons and Dyson spheres answering directly to the administration's marching orders.


But, thinks Anthony Margos as he walks down a breezy, quiet street in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, the Direct Governate is only a small fraction of the real power of the species. Millions of different political entities dot the stars, from rogue city states to powerful confederations dominating entire galactic sectors, culminating in an absolute restaurant's menu of different ideologies, religions, cultures and even manners out there for the idealistic person to try out. Some pride themselves on their fierce independence from the Human Republic. While most of these are lone asteroid colonies full of extremists, the largest of these nations, the systems of the Maldavian Theocracy, resists on the grounds that the United Nations' successor is illegitimate. The overlord's aggressive, proselytising form of secularism is against the tenants of their faith.


For the Maldavians, the high-minded zealotry of their violent religion might well be enough. For smart powers in the galaxies however, representation and inclusion in the Human Republic's senate is the crucial prop both to their legitimacy to others, but also for protection from the aliens, cultists or even the machinations of another nation. And for that to happen, you needed to have a patch of sovereign terrestrial territory. A couple of square meters of Earth trade for entire planets.


It's great business for a real estate agent like Anthony.


Turning to the left, he finally reaches the destination- a border checkpoint.


Well, calling it a border checkpoint exaggerates the prestige here. A single barrier with 3 guards separate Anthony from the old Motel building and parking lot … assuming he doesn't wish to walk around them from the United States of America to the Aurelian Federation, today's seller.


“Hello, I'm the estate agent. But you can call me Anthony.”


The ID doesn't even need to be presented or uploaded before the guards nod and lift up the barrier. Anthony sometimes regrets having such a powerful job title. It used to be fun arguing with the millions of Earthling border guards, trying to find some reason to justify walking into the Mormon Enclaves or the Joe Makey Utopia. On second thoughts though, it's hardly like the Aurelians look like the most concerned with that whole drama anyway. These guards don't have any weapons, and there's a dog asleep in the post.


The earthly territories of the Aurelian Federation consist of a 700 meter by 300 meter claim just a few blocks away from the Salt Lake City's old airport. On the land are 4 main buildings, but the main one consists of an ancient, pre-space age motel, still overhung by the big Motel 6 sign, almost certainly only there due to a Human Republic heritage claim case law. The 2 floors of the old building have a third, much more modern floor placed on top, with flashy technology all over it, probably to hide the cheap prefab construction of the module.


And, much like the cheap prefab on top, an over the top individual in an elegant black suit and red tie emerges from the ground floor with open arms. His face is broad, square and has what looks like a gold monocle on his right eye. Anthony finds his mind wondering what's the deal with the 'monocle look' that's so in fashion right now as the man grasps his hand in a much too firm shake.


“Hello, hello real estate agent, and welcome to our humble country! I am Titus Rahhay, Senator for the Aurelian Federation. How's your day been?”


Anthony says nothing as he spots another person, a woman, walk out of the building. She is the strangest thing. Her chestnut complexion clashes badly with this almost alien gown with a blue wave projection on it. It's actually pretty hard to not watch the surfer's paradise going on on her body as he snaps back to Titus the Senator.


“It's good. How's the senate?”


“Oh, you know, the usual. Just sponsored a motion to withdraw Republican funding from the war against the Enras this morning but I think I'm going to be outvoted...”


“Ah well, so it goes.”


Without missing a beat, the estate agent pivots over to the woman.


“Hello, my lady. Estate Agent Anthony Margos, here is my business card.”


The lady graciously takes it while shaking his hand.


“Lady Yamoussoukro, Supreme President of the Belmopan System.”


Our man isn't phased in the slightest. He's met more than enough leaders for that, though it's still a bit unusual for them to be there in person. Clearly this sale is going to mean a lot, he ponders as he reaches down into his pocket. From there is a pair of computerised glasses, for all the research needs. Knowledge is power, after all. And Anthony is a bit too old fashioned to want to get a surgical implant like the senator.


Speaking of which, the senator points over to the next door building, an old diner. The windows of the former Denny's have mostly been covered in concrete, but apart from this sloppy bit of construction most of it just now looks like a nice, converted office block. This will have to be the object of the sale, so the trio walk over casually towards it. Notably, one of the border guards detaches and follows.


A few dozen steps later, and Senator Titus begins the usual seller's spiel.


“As you can see, here is a piece of sovereign Earth land. 110.2 meters by 120 meter plot to be precise, with a virtual line drawn around the perimeter.”


So it does, says the glasses. A neat little rectangle surrounds the Denny's and the fabulous urban-hippie garden that used to be the restaurant's car park. Just barely within the legal limits.


“And encompassing a fabulous historic building. 20th century, used to be a restaurant believe it or not. Nowadays of course it is both a residential and office complex, with room to expand.”

Well, room to expand is a bit tongue in cheek here. It's just about enough space to take a quick leg stretching session outside after a long day's working in the alleged offices. Anthony's eye zips between multiple tabs of information, looking into the Belmopan Systems, the Supreme President, and the local news from those distant stars. The pictures sure look very frontier for now that's for sure.


Immediately, the Supreme President nods enthusiastically.


“Yes, yes, and the patch also has some authentic home world natural landscape, with a proposed national park.”


Yes, the glasses are seeing the proposed national park. A potted plant, probably some kind of sapling oak tree, but this isn't elaborated on in the report and it's not like Anthony has green fingers. For some reason, the Human Republic's bureaucracy still hasn't come round to judging this particular claim.


He turns around and launches quick fire some questions.


“Human occupancy potential?”


The senator snaps happily.




Bunk beds.


“Planned employees?”


The supreme president is eager to add into this.




Who will cross an international border every time they come in for the commute, 100%.


“How many extraterrestrial claims in the Belmopan Systems Madame President?”


“ 2 inhabited planets, Belmopan VI and VIV. 43 asteroid colonies. 22 comets. 11 space stations. One yellow giant star. One red dwarf.”


These answers are clearly rehearsed.


“Price to be paid?”


“30 billion dollars, credit, 3 asteroid colonies located near the galactic borders and mining rights for heavenly bodies within 10 lightyears of the borders.”


“That's a cheap deal. And for such a recent secessionist cause too?”


Both look uncomfortable, but Titus planned this one out.


“They had a referendum, they voted for independence, and that's that. All according to both Aurelian and Republic law, so no need for any bad blood.”

“Open market or direct sale?”


A hesitation.


“Direct sale.”


Anthony raises his eyebrow.


“I assume it will be going to our friend from Belmopan VIV .”


“.... Yes.”


“You do realise that Belmopan is the name of a citystate already represented in the Human Republic?”


“I understand. We intend to register ourselves as the Belmopan Systems.”



“You understand that you are legally required to know and follow Republic law. All sales are regulated by the HR Terran Registry, and all sales claims must be presented by a private estate agent who must inform clients of their rights, obligations and laws. No collusion, corruption or political agreements must be present in the sale of sovereign claims. Payments must be at or near market rates.”


“Yes, of course...”


“And yet, you are not following these laws. There is obvious collusion, corruption and political agreements ongoing in this transaction. The Belmopan Systems are going nominally independent from the Aurelian Federation, with the clear motivation of swinging the vote on the Enras war.”


“Absurd, that's a ridiculous accusation!”


“Wrong answer. I have plenty of evidence, recorded on my glasses.”


This time the Madame president pipes up to seek for mercy.


“You're just bluffing. You can't get away with these brazen threats!”


Anthony shrugs.


“Wrong answer.”


Titus blinks. Years in politics has made him very good at recognising the posture and intentions of others. This is no bluff, and everything he is saying is true. With a series of daggers launching from his eyes, he changes tack.


“Please, consider the region. The Enras didn't attack the Republic! It's all bankrolled and supported by the factory colonies of the Gregantum Nebula, and there is no legitimacy to this devastating conflict, that is flooding our humble planets and space stations with wave upon wave of refugees.”


“Wrong answer.”

“We're doing what we have to to stop the suffering, there, I admit it! The Belmopan Systems will be reabsorbed into the Aurelian Federation in 5 years, when this whole Enras war is resolved with a peaceful resolution. My peaceful resolution. I am bringing peace, to an otherwise quiet part of the galaxy!”


“Wrong answer.”


“Have you no heart?!”


Before Titus can fly into a rage, Anthony shrugs and shoots a glance at the Madame President.


“Shame, I'm gonna have to report you. And for such a noble cause, too. If only I could be stopped from ruining the Senator's ambitious and brilliant political manoeuvre. ”


And there it clicks in the woman.


“We'll pay!”


The senator turns to her in complete shock. Yet, even as he moves to instinctively smack her, Anthony laughs.


“Correct answer.”


Dead in the motion, Titus turns aghast at the estate agent.


“P-Pay you? Even more?”


“You don't have to. I can just report you for your blatant violations of Republic law.”


Silence. Then Lady Yamoussoukro places a hand on Titus' shoulder.


“How much?”


The senator, still not quite understanding, stutters an objection.


“But this is bribery? How could you?”


She sighs.


“Titus Rahhay, let's be honest. We're bending the rules of the Human Republic to try and get the best for everyone. You know as well as I do that the Belmopan systems will continue to be loyal to the Aurelian Federation as long as we live, and that we all face common problems. If it takes a bribe to an estate agent to get peace for the Enras peoples and ourselves, then we should take it. Anything for peace.”


Anthony smiles.


“You've got a eye for politics, Supreme President. With that eye and those noble goals, you might go far. Now, let's discuss a rate, shall we?”


Titus gravely dips his head. He checks quickly to see if anyone is watching.





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