Alchibah Bay View
Spring, The Third Year
The building looked like a giant grey caterpillar half buried in the ground. The Colonials called them bubbles and hundreds had been set up at the end of the first winter when housing was in such short supply and it was still too early to cut timber.
On the Mayflower, slag left over from refining metals, had been heated to form glass and then foamed with nitrogen. The bubble sections had been cast in microgravity and then assembled on the planet, doors and windows were cut and the result was a strong though ugly, multi-use structure. Most families eventually built more conventional homes and the bubbles were put to other uses.
Hunter St James emerged from the door of one of the two such buildings on Bay View, his freehold. He had spent the afternoon inside helping Sharon cut up, and preserve all manor of sea creatures she had collected on her last dive. Sharon had filled the bubble with aquariums full of Alchiban sea life and a large and growing collection of specimens.
Her work to date had resulted in many discoveries beneficial to the colony. The latest was a dye-like compound in one of the sea plants, that apparently could cause dead or damaged Human nerve tissue to regenerate.
As He walked toward the main house he glanced back towards the forest at the other bubble, which served as a barn. There was nothing to be concerned about, and if there were, the two Labrador Retrievers accompanying him, Canis Major, and Canis Minor, would have noticed first.
A large war-bot stood motionless near the barn. An 8 ton torso on 3 meter legs, the War-bots weren’t much good for performing labor but unlike the GE-3’s brought on the Mayflower; war-bots could actively protect the human settlements. This one had killed a rumbler a couple weeks back, destroyed it really, a 25mm Oerlikon gun tears a rumbler up pretty good. For smaller pests like Slizzards the war-bot was equipped with a Rogon style plasma cannon. Each settlement had at least 2 of the hulking machines.
The main house was a rambling structure built of hand fitted natural stone and giant hewn timbers topped by a peaked roof of red tile. The girls had done much of the stone work. Wearing powered exoskeletons his teenage daughters had no trouble fitting the half ton rocks together like a puzzle, to form massive walls. The York twins had proven equally adept, as the two sets of twins happily competed with one another. Wearing an “exo” a teenage girl could do more work than any robot,
Hunter truly felt he had the most beautiful home on Alchibah. The sea crest settlement hugged the coast a hundred miles south of Liberty city. Nestled on a broad shelf between the ocean and the 1000 meter ridge that paralleled the coast, there were dozens of freeholds overlooking the ocean, and even more in the valley just over the crest. Jace and Emily York, had a farm nearby, where they raised turkeys, rabbits and little York’s, Guy and Carmen Anselmo were just a few miles further where they had by now the most children of any family on the planet.
Hunter sat on his porch and reached for a bottle out of the handy cooler. A gift from Andy Stuart; the whiskey was getting better each year.
A hundred yards of lawn gently sloped down to the edge of the cliffs, and the ocean beyond. Hunter and Sharon had planted trees on the lawn; Earth trees genetically modified to thrive on this different world. The beach below had been the source for most of the boulders that were used to build the house. Now the cleared beach was used to park the big aluminum “Mike” boat, with Sharon’s mini-sub on board.
As the sun dropped below the top of the mountain a shadow swept over the farm, the line of last sunlight racing east as the sun approached the true horizon. Across the darkening waters the straight edge of the eastern horizon was broke in several spots by distant islands. The waters in between, while not a true bay, enjoyed some shelter from the open ocean, and were now, as usual calm and peaceful.
In the winter all that changed; storms sent tremendous waves crashing against the 100 meter cliffs, but as winter set in, the pack ice prevented much wave action and the seas became calm again. In the bay, pack ice drifting in melted as a result of the heat produced by geothermal vents on the sea floor, these helped to moderate the temperature of the coastal estates. That same warm water attracted the Alchibah Sea monsters, larger than the pliosaurs of Earths Jurassic period, the 40 meter leviathans could often be seen leaping and cavorting in the open water.
It was in the early days of last winter when he began having dreams… dreams of a battle in space. Nightmare visions of being on an unrecognizable alien space craft. The crew around him were strange, but impossible to make out. It had taken Hunter many nights to realize that in his dream, he too was an impossible alien. By mid winter, he could take it no more. It was no problem finding volunteers to take out a dragonhead and go chasing after his dream.
The alien ship had been partially crushed when it impacted the asteriod in orbit around the gas giant Alchibah IV, and there it had waited for untold thousands of years. Hunter and the crew had spent a week studying the ice bound ship before heading home. There would be many trips back to the wreck and someday its secrets would be revealed, but for Hunter St James the bad dreams had stopped.
So much had happened these last few years, building Bay View and the new settlements, new families and projects, for so many, new lives. Several trips had been made back to Earth. Trade with the resistance was going great.
News from Earth was pretty grim; the best estimates put the death toll after the UNWG collapse at over 1 billion. Some parts of Earth had fallen back to the darks ages. The UN had become far more tyrannical than before, but there were large geographical areas where the resistance was in open control. The belt and Mars were free of Earth control and the Rogons didn’t seem to mind. Still billions live as slaves and it will be years before we can finally drive the Rogons away, then without the Rogons, the UN will fall and freedom will return.
Stars were beginning to be visible through the darkening sky. The dogs had run off, but were now returning with Sharon close behind. This had become a daily tradition, so there was no need for words, as she sat down and leaned against her man.
Tonight was more magical than most because the full moon Oliver was rising, as if, from the sea, much brighter than the Moon of Earth.
The silvery rays of moonlight caught the flowering trees in the most amazing way. Hunter and Sharon quietly enjoyed it all knowing it was a gift from God; the sea, the sky, the moon, and the cherry blossoms.