T'reka had barely been able to unpack her bunk, the night before, but she was glad she did. Waking up from sleeping on a perch-seat would have meant stiff muscles and aching joints. Waking up from a bed still meant aching joints and stiff muscles, but they were of such a lesser degree that she could climb up to the comms complex with a degree of relative ease.
T'reka sang to herself as she took her time putting together her comms equipment. It was amazing what a difference solitude made. All of her everyday nerves just didn't matter. Nobody in authority was breathing down her neck. Nobody in her periphery to offer her ready criticism of her life and how she lived it. Nobody around to shun her as mad.
And nobody demanding that she hurry up and get results.
She got halfway through assembly and installation of the comms complex before she realised that she had yet to preen herself for reasons other than hygiene.
Of course. There was nobody around to observe her cleaning herself. Nobody criticising her for being a filthy, insane scientist. Nobody questioning her habits or deriving them from thin air, using zero data points.
It all made her sing louder. Just for the joy of it.
She sang songs she hadn't sung in years. Praised the Mighty Mother for her wondrous works, even though science had taught her that divine influence was synchronicity in another hat. She sang because, for the first time in a long pace of her life, she felt like singing.
And there was a reason to sing.
She was happy.
The world looked brighter. More colourful. The air smelled sweeter. Her stored food supplies tasted better. T'reka finished her current machine and took a break to perch on the balcony and stretch her wing-arms, just because she could.
So much to do.
And the rest of her life to do it in.
Anyone else from civilisation would view this situation as a desperate sentence for a heinous criminal. To look on a life alone in the middle of a poisonous jungle as paradise must be madness.
Good thing I'm a scientist, T'reka mused. I'm used to being insane.
She sighed and got back to assembling her comms equipment. Her origin point of Kal'rike city would be expecting data and, when she got it all together, an 'arrived safe' message to test the entire system.
Her people were impatient, and T'reka had no fondness for trying to survive the incendiary bombing that her failure to communicate would cause for her base camp.
On the other hand, there was a very good chance that any demands of further communication from the newly-settled capital would be both sporadic and sparse.
They would sift through her data, but largely ignore her logs, both professional and private.
T'reka checked with the manuals as she put everything together, just to make certain. She'd done things like this before. On other expeditions. Working with other scientists. She was moderately certain she knew how it went. The manual checks were just making certain.
Measure thrice, cut once.
She finally finished, almost in time for lunch. Powered it up and chirped with glee at all the bright indicators that all was well. The antennae extended and she soon had contact with Kal'rike and the science listening station on the outskirts.
"Calling in from Toxic Island base camp," she sang, trying not to sound too happy about it. If they thought she dared be happy in this mission, they would send some variety of supervisor. "Assigned scientist, T'reka the Mad. All packs arrived, all complexes erected, I am alive and well; over."
She listened to the hiss of the universe for a heart-stopping minute before a bored male voice answered, "We hear you clear, T'reka. Data stream is unpolluted. We have logged you as good. Over."
"Thank you, science listening base," T'reka chirped. "T'reka signing off."
"Acknowledged. Good luck out there."
T'reka closed the channel and installed the ear-bug in her tympanum. Day or night, she would hear if Kal'rike called. In the field or in her new home, they would be able to reach her.
Personally, she doubted that they wanted to.
She glided down to the domicile unit and began even more unpacking and installation. There would be a kitchen, a series of contained farms, designed to provide adequate food without contaminating anything else. Of course, the fare would be limited to that which could grow nearly indefinitely and also be contained where it began. T'reka didn't mind it at all. It was the sort of food she subsisted on as a matter of course.
And, should she find anything edible in that mess of greenery, T'reka had no doubts she would be making a little rooftop farm of it for herself in due course.
For now, it was installation after installation, making certain everything was ready to help her stay alive.
T'reka gained a new appreciation for domicile builders, with just herself to follow sets of instructions that assumed she knew what the author was writing about. It took her five tries to get some things not only in, but working properly.
She would have to write a stern note to the pack preparation team about some of their more lacklustre manual writing skills. A stern and polite note, respectfully suggesting that some important steps had accidentally been omitted.
T'reka didn't want her admittedly limited influence to negatively impact anyone else's life.
It cost her a few feathers, but she finally got everything installed properly.
What most amazed her was the space. She'd never had so much room in her life.
There was an entire room just for sleeping! Another for bathing. A third just for a personal comms station and data analysis unit. A fourth for a reference library! There was even space for analysing, preserving and preparing useful specimens for drone deployment back to Kal'rike. And a useful machine that, according to the instructions, would synthesise new drones out of her household waste.
Waste nothing, want for nothing.
That, and containing her mess also contained evidence of her presence. And if nothing could know she was there, nothing could attack her.
Automated systems, once online, catalogued everything that the exterior cameras picked up. Foliage, insects, small animals. They worked even at night and already captured a plethora of night-beasts. Birds, mammals, even lizards.
It was so very, very different from civilisation. Or the safe and restricted fields of Hu'lu'a.
And for that, T'reka was happy.
Tomorrow… O tomorrow.
That was the day.
That was the day she would begin the real work.