The sun felt just glorious!
The air smelled delicious, like someone was baking, but since the smell seemed to be coming from the forest, she decided not to break the rules just yet. Which meant no tracking it down.
Besides, given the briefing she'd had about the local biome, it was probably venomous, poisonous, or out to take her life by other means.
Dad came to fetch her from the ship-creche. "Hey, sweetie. Nice to see you out, at last."
"Nice to be out at last," sighed Susan. "I was starting to forget what sunshine was like."
"Mom's at the doctors'. I have to show you 'round all by myself."
"What're we calling this town, anyway?"
"No, it's real. Andropov is painting a historic sign. Welcome to Wiwazheer. We was here. Established 2093 CE."
Nothing on Earth was like Wiwazheer, and that was the point. Houses were made to become one with the environment, instead of battle against it. They used natural materials and physics and models based on nature to create buildings that needed little power to begin with to maintain a happy climate for their residents.
Which meant that all the buildings were blobby mounds with gopher-hole vents in their curved, grassy roofs. Small crops were already starting all around the stepping-stones. The young trees looked lonely in their appointed spaces, but Susan could already see the grown future.
I'll be a woman by the time it's happened… she mused.
"And this park will be done sometime after we finish the hospital complex," said Dad. "Would you believe we're modelling the air circulation after a termite nest?
"No way. How big is this hospital?"
"We're making it expandable. Wiwazheer isn't going to stay this small. And that ship isn't going to be there forever. When we finally disassemble all of it, we're going to put some kind of library, city hall there."
"Termite nest," said Susan. She could easily believe they were on another planet, even here in the town. Even with Earth food crops everywhere, it was so… weird. "Are there schools?"
"On the co-operative creche model. You learn what you want to learn when you want to learn it. As well as the basic skills you have to learn, of course."
"Reading, writing and arithmetic?"
"And tracking, hunting, and identification of all dangerous things."
"Of course." Part of her still couldn't believe it. A whole world of new things and not anyone on it to tell her that any of it was a bad idea because of traditions. A new world to nurture and learn to co-operate with.
She half expected the Media to jump out of the bushes and point cameras at her and everyone here to laugh at her. Still expected it all to be a massive joke. Still looked for the cameras and the gawkers and the people who thought they could change her and her family's mind by yelling rude things at her like a lout.
But there was none of that. Just hobbit-houses with gopher holes and bicycles and wide, wide streets of packed soil and air so clean that it almost sparkled.
"The horses are almost ready for foaling," said Dad. "It's kind of icky, since we could only transport foetuses. Do you want to see?"
"Duh. Yeah. Of course I want to see." The chief factor in her signing up for this one-way trip was the promise of horses.
Dad turned down one wide street and headed for a lumpy building with a stylised magnifying glass on it.
Not even two months on the planet and people were doing Architecture.
But then, they were supposed to be valuing all ways of expanding human experience. And on the plus side, anyone looking at it could tell it was supposed to be the science building.
Inside was a warren, with helpful coloured lines to follow all the way to the Animal Labs.
There, in the half-light, was tank upon tank upon tank of infant creature in artificial utero.
"Look, but don't touch," said Dad.
There were lots of different breeds of horses. The draught horse, the tough Australian Brumby, there were even proper ponies with their bulbous bellies and floofy manes.
"I earmarked this one for you," Dad cycled the rack around so she could see. It was still young, yet, not nearly ready for its birthing, but it was undoubtedly the sort of horse she'd always dreamed of.
She was a Paint horse. All brown and black and white patches, with Appaloosa dapples on her rear.
Susan gasped and sprained something trying not to squeal. "Oh, she's so beautiful," she whispered.
Little baby horse hooves twitched in the amniotic fluid. Monitors on the screen to one side of the tank showed all kinds of happy green signs that this little foal was going to be healthy and fit.
"You're going to have to be her momma, when she's foaled. And yes, we have a stable-hole before you ask. With a pull-down bunk so you can sleep with her at night."
"And the formula?" Susan asked. She knew she could not pat the foal, though she dearly wanted to. She could see the tubes that connected almost seamlessly to her foal's umbilical cord.
"Synthesised out of the safe parts of the local flora. She's going to get everything a genuine momma horse would give her."
"Especially lots of loving," whispered Susan. By this time next year, she'd be saddling up and riding her very own horse!
And all those idiots who mocked her for going would be long forgotten.