A Word to the Point

After the Vote    Day Seven 00:07:17:30

[Joint post by Bart, Janie, & Historian]

     We stayed after the nominating session and vote ended then shared a toast and a few words with the Parkers, Stuarts, Benjamin’s, Kara, and some of the others but I could tell Janie’s heart wasn’t in it. “Why not go back to the tent Janie? You’re hiding it from most but I can see you’re havin’ no fun at all. I should go and take over from Joe or Eugene so one of them can get back in and enjoy the festivities.

     “That’s a sounds like a very good idea Bart. But I’ll go with you so they both get a chance.”

     An hour or so later the Jeep signaled. I looked at my comp screen and saw the message “Man sized object moving towards you from the East.” The bots could send voice or text with equal ease. I can imagine a few instances where that could come in very handy.

     It turned out to be the Historian who emerged from the shadows into the lighted area where we were working. “Joe told me you were both out here and I figured I’d come out and finish up our earlier conversation from the point where we left off. But you don’t need to fill me in on the specifics of any of the other colonists…. I’m quite aware of their personalities and background. I’m also sure that this is more than a bitch session so go on with your proposal.”

     Janie began abruptly, “I’d like to leave the settlement. Oh that’s not exactly what I mean… I just think it would be best. Bart said that he wanted to leave with me. I know he really wants to stay… and I would tell him to stay, except… I’m just so sure leaving is right for both of us. And I was looking for a reason to change, but this afternoons session was the straw that broke this camels back. Look at all the rules proposed and all of the bickering. These are the kind of things we should have decided before we set foot on the planet. But I can understand why that wasn‘t possible… Still it just reinforces my conviction about getting away for a while. And just think, Jack the Blade goes down in history as the first person ever nominated for public office on the planet, and Les Reye gets the most votes for Council. It‘s just too much.”

     All the time Janie had been talking the Hist had been listening expressionlessly. He turned to me and said, “Bart?”

     “I don’t like it but I’m gonna stick with Janie on this. There surely is a lot of bickering. Somehow I felt we would almost all be small government types, but was I wrong! I see two ways Janie and I might work things out. The first is if I just ask Captain Travis for a spot on the Mayflower. I have little doubt I’ve proven myself to his satisfaction and as short handed as they are up there I think he would take us in a second. But what I really want to do is harder and will take some doing.”

     “I’d like, along with Janie and maybe a few others to do some exploring. My interest and training, that part I never got to use, was in Planetary Studies. Yeah I know most thought that it should have been named Earth Science for Dummies. But they didn’t take the courses and those that did learned differently. It included a fair amount of geology and climatology and a lot of other useful stuff. Even some botany geared to climate zones. We’ve got a whole world out here to work out the details, catalogue, and characterize. If I could get some support, maybe call it a sponsorship, from Travis and the folks downside. We could head north and eastward mapping and recording what we find. We can learn a lot from space observations and flyovers, but we can’t know the land until we walk it. We might even set up an outpost and live there for a time till things are settled here in Liberty and it looks like a place worth coming back to.”

     “And there’s one other thing. It wouldn’t have been ethical to vote on the Council members and then go running off to the Mayflower if I couldn’t get support for the expedition. So Janie and I just turned in blank ballots. But if we do stay with Liberty I am sure I’ll regret that. I’d be willing to do the trip on my own if we find the local life forms are ok to eat, and it does look that way now, but without support I won’t take Janie with me.“

     “Bart!… I’m no helpless Babe in the Woods.”

     “I know that Janie. But have you ever gone hunting? Or backpacking for more than a day at a time? Or even been camping anywhere else but a public campsite with water and restrooms?”

     She looked at me, expression glum, and shook her head. “Well that’s settled then. No support—- we go to the Mayflower.” I looked at the Historian and said, “What do you think? Will I get my support?”

     The Historian looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, “Bart, if it was up to me, you’d get your wish, whichever it is. But it isn’t up to me. Certainly we need to explore the planet and eventually, we will. Right now, though, we have a colony to set up. We’re still living in tents and carrying in river water in buckets! I don’t know for sure but I suspect that if you ask others around here they would say, could you wait a month till your lumbering services aren’t needed as much.”

     Further,” he said, looking at Janie, “Didn’t you tell me before lunch that you were ‘looking for a kind of Walden Pond with friends and modern conveniences, and a good job too.’ Not many modern conveniences out in the wild. At least here, you have support, refrigeration of food, and shortly, much more.”

     He paused a moment and then continued, “If you’d rather join the Mayflower crew, that is something you must take up with Travis. I need to remind you, especially you, Janie, that during lunch you also said that on Earth you always felt stifled, that you always felt you were being watched and that you didn’t want to put up with all the regimentation and petty rules. I have some news for you; on a starship, that’s all you have!

     The Historian looked at his wristpad a moment and then said, “I know there are some questionable people here. I can’t speak for old R.J. but I imagine that not everyone could be fully ‘vetted’ as all of us had to leave Earth three months before we were supposed to. Then again, even in an organization such as an army or the police, where screening is rather intense, you still wind up with a few bad apples.”

     “Look, why not give it a few weeks, at least, before you bail out on us either into the wild or onto the Mayflower. If you still want to go, I’ll throw my support, for what it’s worth, behind you. By then, the colony should have some permanent shuttles — the reconditioned lifeboats — and might be able to spare the two of you one of them for some exploratory journeys. Think it over. If you two still want to leave now, I can’t and won’t stop you. This is a free planet. I hope and will work to keep it that way.”

     With that, he turned away and headed back towards Hanna’s.

     Janie didn’t say a word as the Historian walked away but the look on her face said it all. “Cheer up Babe, I think I’m almost as disappointed as you, but look at it from the Histy’s point of view. He’s newly elected to a job that he has to make work if the colony is going to survive and not fragment into a hundred little pieces right from the git go. He needs all the support he can muster and then some. I’d say give him the few weeks he asks for and then we go… but the decision is up to you.”

     “Oh Bart… I had my heart set on this.” I remained silent, just waiting.  Finally Janie added. “Ok we try it his way, but you give me a crash course in survival skills in the meantime.”

     “Consider it a promise.”

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
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