Vas’ World has a landing page here.
This comes after The Sea And Sky.
Caliber was a little annoyed at their new planet.
They were all a little annoyed at their new planet, to be fair. It had any number of flaws and not nearly enough positives to counter them, far too many deadly problems and none, so far, of the things that sometimes made new settlements totally worth it.
Gentor, despite its scorching temperatures, had had garithite, which made several cancers visible in very early stages. The lovely and deadly Elrodre had produced Elriers Rouge, which prevented most forms of skin cancer. Kincaid, with its naturally-exploding plants and shrapnel-generating animals, had been found to have crustacean-like critters with shells naturally strengthened with tungsten. This planet? This planet couldn’t even grow grapes.
Caliber had brought all of his carefully-packaged rootstocks, filling up a good portion of his weight allowance with them, and then carefully tried one varietal after another. None of them would bear fruit, not here. Taking Armanie’s word that, once they were settled, they could afford to look further abroad, he had packed the surviving plants back up, and begun looking for a substitute for the short-term.
There wasn’t that much time to devote to it. Every member of the team had duties, just to survive. They hadn’t been able to get everything off the ship before it sank, so much of what they did, building themselves shelters, exploring the planet, planting and harvesting food, had to be from native materials with MacGyvered tools. It was slow-going, much slower than a standard colonization ought to be.
Still, Caliber found the time. It helped that his botany degrees dovetailed his hobbies and career, that he could test each food for edibility and then again for ferment-ability, so that he could gather plants on “work” time, and then, in the evening, in the hour of private time they each had before they slept, he could work on his wine-tests.
He was beginning to despair – they had found grain-substitutes, dye-substitutes, leafy-green substitutes, but no fruit-substitutes, nothing that made a decent wine (although he’d managed a very impressive beer that was very popular with the rest of the colonists.) They had been there for months, the season was beginning to turn chilly and damp. Was he going to be reduced to being a brew-meister and not a vinter?
Armanie proved, not for the first time, to be his salvation. Coming back from an exploratory run deep into the jungle, she thumped down on his desk a wide armful of plant matter. “Try this,” she demanded. “The stalks are edible if not tasty, but there’s something like berries, too.”
“Berries…” They were almost grapelike, he noted, noting, also, that she had brought a full bush, roots and all. He ran one of the rich, juicy things through his instruments and then, going for the empirical test, popped one in his mouth.
“Marry me,” he blurted out. “Oh, Armie, this, this is heaven.”
The team leader smirked happily at him. “You brew up some wine,” she told him, “and we’ll talk.”
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