The chapter list
Stephen sat alone in his cell contemplating the events that had lead to this day. Ironically the time since his arrest for vagrancy had been the most comfortable of his short life. A hot shower every morning and three square meals a day were a rarity back on Earth.
Earth once the centre of human civilisation now merely a provincial backwater. A thousand years have passed since man first left the confines of his homeworld, now humanity controls a vast area of space and there are hundreds of populated worlds. As the original colonies developed and resources on Earth dwindled huge swathes of the population left seeking a new life on planets around alien suns.
On Earth those left behind began to regress to a more barbaric state. Large tribal groups fought over the scant resources and the hallmarks of civilisation like art and science were abandoned for mere survival. Seeing the state of their home world some charities were founded by the rich colonies to help those unfortunate enough to be stranded on the Earth, one of these charities began to offer some individuals the chance to leave and resettle on another world. Stephen was one of those fortunate enough to be selected. He was young being in his early twenties and smarter than the average inhabitant of the Earth.
Unfortunately this charity turned out to be nothing more than a large corporation looking for cheap temporary labour. For five years Stephen toiled away in a large off world mining complex extracting ores from asteroids. He was intentionally kept in the dark as to who his employer was and when the minerals ran out he and his fellow miners were simply dumped on another alien world.
Most of Stephens fellow miners quickly ran afoul of the local police and were deported but not Stephen for six months he lived on the streets of a small city stealing small amounts of food and sleeping rough in doorways. Eventually the police caught him and after a lot of questioning he was thrown into the comparative paradise he now found himself in.
The door opened and he was dragged to hit feet by two prison wardens. "Come on you, time to go." "Go, go where?" "To court you damned fool, honestly don't you even have courts on that backwater you call home?" With that he was taken from his cell and into a large room where he guessed he was likely to be swiftly sentenced to deportation and gotten rid of.