Smith and Wesson
Chapter Two: New Vegas.
By Douglas E. Gogerty
New Vegas was founded by some very wealthy industrialists when electrical power was still in great abundance. They had made their money in various pursuits, and were looking for adventure. They wanted to create something big. This particular group wanted to leave their mark, and New Vegas was their idea.
They carved out the city in the midst of the Amazon jungle on the banks of the Jari River. The land was cheep and it was important for the town to exist on the equator. Thus, they clear-cut the forest, and built the airport. For them, the actual town was not important. It was just a place to fly into for the eventual trip into space.
Brazil could not provide enough workers for the massive undertaking. Hence, during this first immigration wave, workers came from all over the world. They constructed a hydro-electric dam, a 5-star hotel, and much of the infrastructure the city would need out of the virgin forest. The industrialists anticipated New Vegas to be a small touristy town. Therefore, they spent very little money providing resources for the town. It did not have roads to connect it to the rest of the country. It was plopped down in the middle of the forest without thought of it thriving without the tourist trade.
Nonetheless, people flocked to the city looking for work. Some anticipated that construction materials would be needed in space for the space hotel. There was a minor resource boom in the area. However, it was terribly expensive and energy intensive to transport all the materials from earth to the station. Hence, the industrialists planned all along to capture an asteroid to provide materials. The asteroid was placed in geo-syncronous orbit a few hundred feet from the location where they wished to place the hotel. It would be able to provide all of the concrete and steel needed for the hotel.
Hence, the second immigration wave came into the New Vegas. The workers that built the structures on the ground were strong and bulky. They were well suited for the harsh work on earth. However, they would be expensive to launch into space. Hence, this second wave consisted of small and light individuals. These smaller individuals would be cheap to place in space and they could work in smaller spaces. Most of this second wave spent a majority of their time in space. Many of their children and grandchildren still live and work at the hotel.
These space construction workers built a few structures on the asteroid to house the workers and process the materials. These accommodations were crude and harsh. The early workers spent months in space with cramped quarters and long days. As is often the case, they were just glad to have the work. They did not complain about the conditions even when one of their own did not survive. Working in low earth orbit was hazardous and many workers were lost.
Nevertheless, the hotel slowly took shape. Eventually, the workers were allowed to move to the more comfortable accommodations at the hotel. They would commute back to the asteroid during their shifts. They would rather make the leap back and forth than stay at the cramped rooms on the asteroid.
When the space elevator became operational, it became significantly cheaper to bring earthly materials to the hotel. Thus, the upper-levels of the hotel could have some of the finest luxuries from earth. Some rooms actually had woodwork in them. The most luxurious had carpeting. Thus, the space hotel became the destination for the very wealthy.
When the hotel was finished, there was no need for the asteroid. However, it was large enough that it would cause issues if it were left to enter the earth's atmosphere. Further, there was no money to tow it back into space. Thus, it was converted to a high security prison. Everyone involved believed it would be impossible to escape from it. Thus, only the worst offenders were taken there.
When the price to ride the space elevator was reduced to increase the profitability of the hotel, New Vegas became the place to be. Hence the third and final wave of immigrants entered the city. Zephenia Smith's grandparents were part of this wave. They moved from Portsmouth in the UK to New Vegas to have a better life. They catered to the tourist trade. They had a shop at a good location near the space elevator landing. At the time, purchasing the spot was quite expensive, but it was also a high-traffic location. Travelers came from far and wide and purchased things from their shop. Thus, the Smith family made a comfortable living.
However, when electricity became prohibitively expensive, travel became a great luxury. Many of the energy sources at the time were of the non-renewable variety. Thus, in the end, only renewable sources were available. While solar and wind power were quite abundant, they did not meet the needs of the energy hungry population of the earth. Thus, the earth went from a high energy consuming world to a low energy consuming world. This changed everything.
The fuel to fly to New Vegas became prohibitively expensive. Without roads to other cities, besides flight, the only way into the city was by river. Hence, once again only the wealthy were able to afford to go to the space hotel while the average citizen could not. The wealthy patrons were not enough to support the population of New Vegas. Many citizens left the city and left it a shell of its former self.
Some business owners saw the downturn coming and left. However, many businesses were not so lucky or smart. As time went on, it was expensive to enter and leave town. Many of these individuals had nowhere to turn. There was no work for the dwindling population, and it was too costly to try somewhere else. Some of these people turned to crime. Thus, New Vegas became known for its criminal element. This kept even more people away.
Zephenia Smith's great-grandparents passed the store to their children. Zeph's family passed the store to him. While it had opened as a souvenir shop, it had morphed into more of a flea market/junk shop. In this configuration, Zeph managed to keep his store going. He mostly abandoned the tourist trade and catered to the local population. He had a few My parents visited New Vega and all I got was a stupid shirt shirts, as well as some commemorative plates and salt and pepper shakers. Those items did not sell well, and mostly collected dust.
With the items that came into the shop, some were in need of repair. Thus, he learned to repair things and resell them. Eventually, he found that he could fix anything. In this way, he could make money fixing the local citizen's things. They would either pay for the repair, or he would take the items and resell them. It was not lucrative, but he managed to scrape by.