The Amity Incident

By CM_Weller All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Adventure

13.

The boys were already tired. They let Susan take the centre because they were all sick of hacking undergrowth in both directions. And, if she remembered the lessons of medicine right, they were also getting thirsty.
Susan stuck her machete in a tree and got out her first canteen. "Any of you boys think to bring water?"
"We got the filter straws," pouted Reke.
"And a noted lack of ponds," added Susan. "Or pools. Or rivers. Or streams."
"Aw get over it," grumbled Jaime. "You were right, fiddle-de-do-dah. Give us a sip. Come on. Fellow feeling in the new world and all that?"
Susan dug out the smaller squish-bottles from her pack. One for each of them. "So, gentlemen; what are the rules for exploring in a potentially hostile environment?"
"Listen to Queen Susan the Always Right?" risked Bill.
"Close," she tossed him a squish-bottle. "Any other guesses?"
"Never trust one source," growled Kori. "I wanted to bring a pack, but Jaime told me to stop acting like a girl."
"And what gender is the person with all the water, Mister Jaime?" Susan dangled his squish-bottle as a potential bribe.
"You're a girl," sighed Jaime. "Unless you change your mind later."
Yes, he'd probably love it if she did. Prove that she was really one of his kind all along. Rubbish, of course. She knew who she was. And rubbing Jaime's stupid face in it might yet become her long term hobby. Susan passed the rest of them their squish-bottles.
"Remember this as a lesson that assumptions about gender roles are pure and utter nonsense. All that's required of anyone is forethought and planning. And genitals have no say in any of that."
The boys grumbled and Jaime rolled his eyes in the manner of the determined slow learner.
Their ideas were literally from another world. Their parents, their society, and everyone around them would see to it that such outdated ideas would die alone in obscurity.
And being one hundred percent antagonistic would guarantee that they'd close their minds and never listen to any new ideas.
She sat and drank her own water. Let all of them cool down for a while. "We haven't gone that far in, really," she said. "After we catch our breath, we could probably go back for all our out bags and hardly lose any light."
She didn't push it. To their minds, good ideas from a girl were not good ideas until a boy had one.
A relic from another world. Susan would be glad when it got universally recognised as such.
How women had managed to put up with it for thousands of years, she had no idea.
"This is rubbish," said Reke. "We'll never cut a path to that stupid beach."
"I'm hot," whined Bill.
"I wanna go back," said Kori. "They reckon some chickens're gonna hatch."
"Eh, my arms hurt anyway." Jaime tossed the empty squish-bottle at Susan. "You do what you like, I give up."
"If you take some of the sample bags with you," suggested Susan, "the analysis department might give you some credits…"
The assembled boys grumbled and moaned, but she saw at least a half-hearted effort at bringing some samples back for her.
Not everyone who came here did so because they wanted to. Susan knew that Reke's mother was escaping an abusive lover. Jaime hadn't been consulted, just told to pack everything he wanted to bring with him on a long trip, and then given a weight limit. Bill basically had to ship out or perish from pollution. Kori had been sold the dream of a farm and his own horse, and a life without judgement. Some had been sold on only part of the ideal of New Gaia. The technology, the farming, the space… sometimes even the gardening.
What almost all parents had glossed over, or only mentioned when they knew their progeny wouldn't be listening one hundred percent, was the hard work.
Susan remembered the week of outrage when a large volume of kids discovered that they had landed in the middle of a tropical forest full of venomous and poisonous things and nothing was prepared for them in advance. Some had screaming rows with their guardians. Others cried for days. Susan had tried to be the voice of reason, or at least the voice of calm-the-heck-down, and counselled some of the more distraught kids through the roughest patches.
The smallest kids got over it first. They had less to hold them back from new experiences. And it didn't take the rest of them too long to start getting cabin fever. There were fights over whose turn it was to stare out the windows at whatever work they could see. Crowds of eager, questioning kids demanding to know what it was like out there.
There was even a whole fortnight where everyone was going crazy over some bug that had set up a nest in one of the windows.
And now they were out, and they still had to cope with rules designed to keep them all safe and a limit to where they could go and what they could do when they got there. And lots and lots of work to do.
Wiwazheer didn't have construction machines. Everything was made by hand. One hand or many, things got done. It took time and pain and sweat, but it got done.
The newly-disenchanted would either get used to it or find some level of comfort and complain about the rest.
It wasn't as if they could go back in a hurry.
Susan finished up, cleaning her machete and sheathing it before she gathered the remaining squish-bottles and the samples that her 'cousins' had left behind. They'd probably complain that she'd get too many credits from all of this, but then, she was the one who even bothered to bag and tag in the first place. After the first few runs when they noticed that whoever brought back the most baggies, won… they'd realise that work got paid in kind.
It was quite a load, but that was why she brought bungee straps with her in her bag.


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