Making Friends

Making Friends 00:0001:05

     Same job with a few new crewmembers. Joe Fortson came to help and his robot R. Dan Daily and two of the Parker’s bots, R. Sir.Tom and R. Maggie, replaced the ones we had borrowed yesterday. We were going to cut some tall trunks, that wouldn’t need to be squared up as columns, for a raised community building. We planned to notch for the attachment points of the floor and roof beams and cut planks for the floor, walls, and roof. No windows yet and just one door with a ladder we can pull up after we are inside. Total size about 60’ by 48’ the plan was to get the first and only floor level 10 foot up above ground and leave the underside open. We could do something with that underside area at a later date. What we were aiming for was something more secure than the tents that we could spruce up later.

     “I saw your crack about our sanitary facilities Joe. Any of the small stuff we cut is yours for the construction thereof.”

     “Gee thanks Bart, I didn’t mean for that to get out.”

     When I went to start the saw mill…. it didn’t. Overnight, what yesterday was just mildly sticky log tree sap had hardened up around the blade pulleys and saw guides. It took 20 minutes and a pint of the precious chainsaw fuel to remove the caked sawdust. We only had two small biomass converters for the fuel production and they would barely be able to keep up with the chainsaws once we were in full swing.

     While Joe and I were cleaning the saw Janie was examining the wood we had cut yesterday. She came back from her inspection, expression grim, and told us all the planks that had been stacked one on the other were now solidly glued together. Those few resting singly on uncut logs had dried to a non stick finish almost like shellac. The sap didn’t dry and stick to the log trees bark. That would mean spacing everything out and drying for a day before the wood could be stacked and moved. All we could do with what we had piled yesterday was cut it up and use it for firewood. At least, and thankful for small favors, the chainsaws were not gummed up, most likely due to their use of blade oil.

     Using the cleaned up trunk of a smaller tree we had taken to calling a Pole Pine as spacers between layers we were shortly cutting again. About that time I got a call from Andy Stuart. The signal was none too clear but I caught something about slabs and charcoal. Joe volunteered to head to the raised area to the south of us and get clarified exactly what Andy was up to. Joe left his bot “Ro Dan” to cut up the glue pile and take it back to the tent area for fire wood. After the re-cutting the wood seemed dry clear through.

     “Yo Andy, How goes it? Diggin’ for gold?”

     “Naw Joe just the Biolab, we got more gold than we can use. And between you and me the food gets cold too fast when Mariana uses the gold table setting. What we need is some supports. We’re digging into the base of the mound here to get us underground for containment but if we are going to have any substantial free span open area we’ll need shoring, cross beams, and roofing timbers.”

     “And at the rate those bots are slinging it Reaper, oops I mean Andy, you’re gonna need em soon.”

     When Joe returned and described what Andy was up to it made sense to get him what he needed as quickly as possible. We started cutting 8 foot shoring timbers and 16 and 20 foot cross beams. An hour later Joe took a chainsaw for the necessary trimming and a cartload of timber pulled by RoDan and Sir.Tom. He would have to get the cart unloaded in a hurry to keep the pieces from sticking together or to the cart itself. We had another load ready to go, mostly roofing, and Joe had not returned yet when Janie and I went back to cutting for the community building.

     While Janie ran the saw I was seeing about getting some more pole pines placed out and trying to figure a way to get the planks to stand on edge so that they didn’t take up as much space. I glanced towards the tents and noticed one of the colonists leading two robots and the other cart heading in our direction. He sent the bots and the cart my way and went over to have a word with Janie. Janie flicked on her communicator so I caught the conversation .

     “Good morning Ma’am. And with a glance in my direction. “You two are certainly performing admirably.”  He said this as R.Emy took another board from the mill and carried it to the drying stack.

     “It’s Janie”, she replied with a quizzical expression, “And your last name is Reyes isn’t it? I don’t think I caught your first.”

     “Les, Lester Reye at your service.”, He nodded his head as if it were a blessing from royalty. “I’ve just come over to pick up some of this marvelous lumber for a private building project I have in mind.”

     Eyes widening in disbelief Janie pointed at me and said, “Go talk to Bart maybe it’s your lucky day.”

     He came over to where I was working and introduced himself.

     “Good morning to you, Mr. Bartlett, and a fine morning it is, though breakfast did leave something to be desired. I am quite sure we will get the meal situation worked out in the fullness of time. Les Reye is the name, I am sure you remember me from the robot class on the Mayflower.”

     “Yes Les, and just what exactly do you want and how did you get hold of the cart while the Galileo is down and being unloaded?” I had seen and heard the ships arrival while we were cleaning up the mill. I guess a hint of annoyance , ok mild anger was creeping into my voice.

     “Calm down, calm down my good man”, in a tone meant to mollify, “It’s really quite simple. After breakfasting, and seeing so many of you laboring types working so industriously, I, along with a few like minded individuals of a more managerial and professional bent, engaged in a short discussion concerning the future direction of our small colony. In so far as it seems too early to make some of the necessary major decisions, we decided that rather than waste time later, we would pick out our building sites overlooking the river. There are perhaps a dozen choice locations with truly spectacular views and perhaps…. yes almost certainly, if you finish up early enough today, you might even choose one yourself.”

     “What the hell!”   Near speechless with amazement that was all I could choke out.

     “And while others are busy unloading the Galileo I thought to stake out my site and perhaps start construction. Nothing pretentious mind you, just two or three thousand square feet to begin with. The cart was temporarily idle so I had R. Augustus and R. Hadrian pull it over to see how you were doing and get a first load. Idle hands and all.” With that he turned to the bots and said , “Start loading boys.”

     “Stop now!! ” I screamed. The robots froze. “Reye, get out of here and take the cart and robots with you. If I don’t see your backside within the next 5 seconds you will surely wish I had.”

     He started to say something then took a closer look at my face, spun on his heels and left.

     Janie, who had come over to hear the end of the exchange said, “Imagine that.”

     “I’ll do my best not to.”, and with a grin, “I did show remarkable restraint. Don’t you think?”

     “Only for you Bart, only for you.”

     It wasn’t long afterwards that Joe Fortson returned. He told me that while unloading and explaining to Andy about the sticky wood sap problem he heard that the second, smaller sawmill, had just made it down. The lab area was much closer to the landing site than we were and so the communications passing back and forth were easier to make out. He told us he had taken his cart back to use for ship unloading and told R .Daily and R SirTom to carry the mill over to Andy so he could cut on the spot and that the bots should be back any time now.

     “Good call Joe. Let’s get back to work.”

     With only a brief stop for lunch we kept going till dusk. We left the cut wood on the pole pines to finish drying overnight and cleaned up the mill. Back at the tents later that evening I found out from the Hist that a few of the colonists were talking about setting up on the Southern continent. I described my “Discussion”, with Lester Reye and the Historian said, “I see.”, and after a pause, “It’s probably time to think about a little more organization.”

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
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