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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 130: Brown 238
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 217
It occurred to Derek that he had perhaps foolishly expected that once they had landed they would quickly be living on the planetís surface. He supposed in some sense they were, but that they were living in the massive Wanderer, which was now functionally a huge twenty-five-mile high fifty-mile long football-shaped skyscraper, with them living on one of the top floors. Meanwhile, their work continued, as now they were monitoring the process of settlement development.
Far below machines were working on creating agricultural and mining areas, utilities networks, processing centers, transportation lines, all the bits of civilization within which residential housing would eventually fit. Settling a planet involved more than merely depositing the people.
Since he had to sit at his station anyway, Derek used some of the time to learn about the process. Of particular interest to him was getting the indigs off the ship and into the world beyond. He knew that there were areas of the ship that had been designed to seem indistinguishable from the outside world, as parks, farms, recreational areas, and wilderness sections had been included in the design, but he suspected that most of the passengers spent their entire lives moving about in what would have seemed to be megalopoli, huge apartment compounds that would have seemed like skyscrapers had there been any sky to scrape. The outside world was going to seem very alien to them. Persuading them to move from the safety of the familiar to the alien landscape of a real world was something he could not imagine doing.
What he found was that once the process started, the computer was programmed to shut down systems gradually, driving people down and out. He didnít know whether the situation had been anticipated, but had recognized that at least the tribal indigs he had encountered were at least moderately mobile, and stayed in one location as long as there was available food, so if things like water and lights were discontinued, they would undoubtedly migrate to wherever they could find these, and gradually be pushed toward the exits. However, it was going to take at least months.
Then again, it was likely that the shipís population was in the millions, and it would have taken months to get them all out of the ship had they retained the civilized sophistication of their ancestors. Hopefully in the time that remained they would learn enough from the educational television that was still running throughout the ship that they could begin to form a new civilization in the world beyond.
They still continued to monitor outer space. Part of this was simply because the systems were still functioning and they saw no particular reason to deactivate them. Additionally, well, their six-hour shifts werenít all that long, but there wasnít all that much else to do. It was at least not entirely boring to compile information about the planetary system, objects such as asteroids and comets within range, and other astronomical information such as star charts which would be at least of interest if not use and value to the indigs as they developed their own science and culture. Vashti named some of the constellations, but Derek didnít pay that much attention, as what they called the various stellar groupings wasnít going to matter outside of their own interests. Identifying geological features had more immediate value, but even if they named the mountains and the rivers and lakes and seas, they werenít likely to teach those names to the indigs. It was not their job to put labels on the map, and for the shipís computer and their robotic captain identification by coordinates was not merely adequate, it was preferable.
Days dragged forward. The only really interesting part of life was that their robot, for so Derek had come to think of it, continued coming up with new recipes.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #456: Versers Prepare. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: