The Amity Incident

By CM_Weller All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Adventure

8.

Another day, another field.
On the plus side, they were small fields. On the minus side, the ground had never been worked before and it was full of roots, rocks, and hard lumpy things that acted like rocks until she tried to grab them out of the earth.
And clay.
Tons of clay.
Clay that could be useful to someone, so part of her job involved digging as much of it out as she could and loading it into a barrow for someone with the knowledge of clay to come and look at it. Poke it. Prod it. Play with it. Then take it away and process it so that it was all the way useful to everyone.
So far, she was up to three very heavy barrow-loads.
And no more weird planes.
Susan had kept an ear open for engine noises, but none came.
Leverage and aching muscles pulled up yet another unidentified root. Which went into a different wheelbarrow for later processing to tell if it was going to poison their crops or not.
As for the rocks, they went into a pile in the corner. Someone would build a wall out of them or additions to a house.
Sooner or later, everything got useful.
The soil around here could only get useful after a lot of hard work.
"Boo!" Dad poked her in the ribs.
Susan jumped, but didn't shriek. "You're hilarious," she deadpanned. "What took you so long?"
"Getting a prescription-load of supplements from the dispensary," said Dad. "You know how Momma was loving the taste of colonial greens?"
"She's pregnant, isn't she?" guessed Susan. "I'm getting a baby sib, if all goes to plan."
Dad glared at her "I always said you were too smart for your own good," he said. "And I suppose you know all about everything that could go wrong in the first trimester, too."
"Yup," Susan did her utmost to act all casual as she went back to work on the field. But inside, she was running on one track, and it went, Baby sib, baby sib, baby sib. "I can even spell trimester. T-R-I-M-E-S-T-E-R. Tri meaning three, Mester meaning month. You keep forgetting I was Momma's teddy-bear all those times."
It was the closest that the three of them ever came to talking about it. All those times on Earth, where the pollution kept getting to Momma and the baby-to-be and making trouble. Or why their house had a flower patch named Billy's Garden.
But there was no pollution here. All the stuff that the analysis computer cleared to eat was one hundred percent safe. No heavy metals. No horrible concoctions caused by pollution in the environment. No teratogens. No pathogens. No secret stealth ingredients in things used every day that slowly poisoned their users. And they'd already been here for six months. Almost seven. Anything still in their systems when they took off had had time to work its way out.
Her contemporaries on Earth had called her a freak for knowing more about the human reproductive system than a kid her age 'should'. She got shunned by mothers of kids who'd used to be her friends. Got teased and ridiculed as a pervert.
It wasn't her fault she kept picking up the technobabble.
Dad picked up one of the spare hoes and worked beside her. Momma must have gone inside for either a nap or more colonial disgusting greens. "Yeah," he agreed. "Did I ever thank you for being such a trooper?"
"About a billion times," she smiled. Especially in the middle of the night, when she began waking up with quiet nightmares, after she put all the evidence together and realised why Momma kept getting so very sad. And very much so, after tiny Billy. Small and red and struggling in a plastic box and almost covered with tubes.
The doctors hadn't let Billy grow in a pseudo-womb. That technology hadn't been cleared for human use. Susan could almost hate them for being afraid to take that non-existent risk. But she knew that they had bills to pay and administrivia to avoid and lawsuits dangling over their collective heads like the sword of Damocles. And in the end, when Billy died at twelve days old, there was nobody to blame, because everyone had an excuse.
But that was Earth.
This was New Gaia.
On New Gaia, there weren't laws. There were agreed-upon guidelines of proper behaviour. Problems big enough for shouting got solved by the committee of people involved. Criminals - not that anyone currently had the time for crime - would be helped to recover from their compulsions and gain new ways of working around their problems. If a doctor took a risk, it was with the patient's consent.
They were working on a society built on mutual respect.
Literally from the ground up.
At least with Dad by her side, she had someone to help with the heavy lifting. All the same, she still took a minute, every row, to scan the skies.
"Looking for more airplanes?" Dad teased.
"Only so I know I'm not going nuts."
"We've only been here six months," he noted.
"Almost seven," corrected Susan.
"It's a little early for space madness, anyway," Dad joked, hauling out yet another rock. "I'll be glad when we have horses…"
Which lead to a discussion on logistics, and who, if anyone, was growing grass crops to feed their oncoming ungulates.
The first chickens had to be kept, corralled, in their own little paddock, lest they peck at something they shouldn't and thus waste the time and energy taken to bring them all the way to New Gaia. But the good news was that chickens could eat anything humans didn't want to, so their grass diet would be supplemented by enough table scraps to feed an army.
Susan was already devising a plan to sneak them all of her colonial greens.
"Which reminds me," said Dad, "Paul Polson up the road was working with Bendi-tree sap? If you slowly heat it, it turns out creamy and thickens up. So tonight's experiment is going to be…"
"Colonial greens and Bendi sap casserole?" Susan guessed.
"With synthesised meat cubes," added Dad.
Great. Spam, poison, and goo. "What've you got for plan B?" Susan begged.
"Same as always. Rationed nutrition mix."
Rat shakes. Fabulous. Sure, they were filling and they tasted 'okay', meaning, 'not horrible'… but after nearly seven months of the stuff, it was getting boring.
The sooner they had something different to eat, the better.


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