Landing Post: Space Colonies

A series of loosely connected stories involving space colonies and all of the issues therein.

January by the Numbers 28: Everyone Eats Everything, a ficlet

January by the numbers continues deep into February…

From sauergeek‘s prompt Everyone eats everything: a ficlet, although more of a start of a story than a story.

As far as strange rules and regulations go, the colonies usually didn’t rate too far up there. When they were colonies, at least, they had far too much to worry about to spend time making rules, other than the very direct: “everybody works” sort of regulations. It was only as time went on and they found themselves in situations where their original survival-based rules were insufficient that most places started coming up with more and more elaborate rules.

Egdarton Seven was a little unique in this matter. It was settled by a small, closed group – one of the few cases where that was allowed, but there was a trend for that around that time, social or avocation groups gathering together and filling a colony. It worked best if the group had wide enough skills to fill all the positions, because one or two outsiders in specialized, necessary positions led to some pretty bad social dynamics on some colonies.

Egdarton Seven, however, had none of the common problems, but it did have a long-standing hobby group with a wide range of skillsets, both within and outside the hobby group and, more, a wide range of already-extant rules and the sort of personalities who enjoyed enforcing said rules. The rules you need to know were posted at their rudimentary spaceport, and woe betide the visiting ship’s-crew or scientist who didn’t read and follow the rules. For a first offense they might be warned, if the person who caught them was feeling generous. For a second offense, they’d be escorted back to their ship and politely told not to come back.

(“What happens if someone part of the community breaks one of those rules?” asked a disgruntled scientist who hadn’t understood the severity or sincerity of the Oxford-Comma rule. The persons escorting the scientist to the ship had clucked in disapproval and not answered. If the scientist had been, perhaps, an anthropologist instead of a xenobiologist, things may have gone very differently for the colony on Egdarton Seven. Certain things were not actually allowed, no matter how they were written into the colony’s charter.)

The one rule that threw almost every visitor, the one rule that got more people evicted from their station, was one that every single member of the colony agreed on wholeheartedly: Everyone Eats Everything. In practice, this meant that if you hated a dish, you could eat a tablespoon-sized scoop of it and be done, but in theory it meant that every person on Egdarton Seven was eating the same things, and that the entire colony ate together.

Like every other rule on the colony, no official explanation for this edict was ever offered, although one teenaged member did like to whisper, melodramatically and none too seriously, “poison!” any time any visitor asked.

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Stern’s Fall, a random piece of a random story

I wanted to get to the top of the leaderboard at 4theWords… so, ah. Here’s a story about noodle monsters to [ profile] AlphaRaposa‘s prompt.

Content warning: Not a happy ending.

It was easy to overlook them, you know, not to take them seriously?

We landed on Toros V, in the Aothen System, not the first team but the first permanent installment, at the settlement they were already calling Sternport.

We didn’t ask why they were calling it Sternport, and that should have been our first clue. It was Faebindor on the survey maps, after the three surveyors – common practice. But all the Lead Team called it Stern’s Port, Stern’s Fall, Sternport. And we thought it was just a Lead Team tradition.

The Lead Teams are a funny bunch, you see: they travel from colony to colony, getting the place set up, getting a living home for those like us, the permanent installations. They do a lot of the grunt work, a lot of the scientific discovery, the ground work for what comes next. And, just when the colony is starting to look like a place to live and not like raw planet with a couple plascrete houses – boom, they’re on to the next place.

They die a lot, too, or so I’ve been told; Lead Teams have only a 68% survival rate. They’re adventure-seekers.

And doing all that, they’re living in homes that will be ours some day, planting crops that we’ll eat, drawing maps that we’ll use. They get to put their own mark on places, and they like that. Once, in a space station, one told me “Most colonists live on one planet, and they carve out a wide mark there. Us? We leave shallow marks everywhere

So you can see why them naming the place Stern’s Port didn’t really catch in our minds.

But oh, damn, I wish one of us had asked just a couple questions.

Their team looked light, leaving Toros V. I noticed almost everyone was carrying one of their grave-tokens – weight-and-cubic-allowance-light tokens carved of bone, plaques the team took with them to remember their dead. I remember one wide-eyed girl, probably born nine months to the day after the Lead Team set down, carrying two tokens around her little neck.

We bowed to them, because they do the hard work, and we always honor that. And then we got to work having a life. It wasn’t ’til months later that I really started to wish we’d asked some questions.

The Lead Team, you see, they make the place livable, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Colonists, you go into that life knowing you’ve got a few years of really hard life.

But that old-timer was right, you carve out a wide, deep mark when you’re the first permanent installment on a planet, and yeah, that’s why I was there.

So we’d been there a couple months before we got exploratory, and probably half a year before we really used the maps the Lead Team had left us. And there, in a valley barely a day’s walk from Sternport, there was a beautiful, luscious, green valley.

It was fresh-looking and alive, and there were plants and fruiting-like trees and the adorable little mammals that everyone called rabbits, even though they had six legs and four ear-things. But the sky was weird, seeming to flicker and shimmer when you looked at it right.

When the sun went behind the clouds, we saw it. Them. Dozens and dozens, hundreds, maybe, of these… things. Furry flying worms? “Noodles,” Sasha declared. Sasha loved creatures. She had already started domesticating the four-ear rabbit-things. “They’re noodle-dragons.”

They were lovely, too. They are lovely. They’re iridescent in the shadows and nearly invisible in the daylight, running from the length of my arm to the length of Main Street, feathery-furry with wide mouths that look like they’re smiling. They make this chirring noise when you get enough of them together – and they’re almost always together. As far as we can tell, they don’t like being alone.

And they like to adopt people, too. They adopted Sasha immediately. So while she was learning all about their noises and their movements, their colors and their calls, I went digging, to see why the Lead Team hadn’t told us about these things.

I found it. I’m a farmer, a dairy farmer, by trade, but everyone on the colonies multi-tasks. We have to. And I’m a historian when I’m not herding goats.

Sternport, we’d thought they said, but they’d started out with Stern’s Fall. They’d been telling us right from the beginning. The Sterns had died within a month of the Lead Team landing.

I found out ten minutes after Sasha died.

That’s the thing about these creatures. It’s easy to underestimate them – pretty, cute-sounding, and shimmery. And they like to make friends. But they like to take their friends up high, high in the sky…

And when the sun comes out they don’t just go invisible, they go insubstantial, too.

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Superfood – a story of Space/Colony for the Summer Giraffe Call Round 2

Written to sauergeek‘ prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call Round 2

Names from –

“All right, the last plant is ready for the colony ship.” Gioia macDowell stepped back and wiped the sweat from her brow while her boss waited — patiently of course; the Detzuborg were always patient — for her to continue. “It’s gluten-free, it’s vegan, it’s umami, it’s got a decent healthy fats content, low cholesterol, not too high in fructose, decent in fiber and with the best protein content I could manage.”

“You made a superfood?” Zenaford’s voice raised mildly. “That is beyond the scope of the brief.”

“Considering the terrain on Zooik Four, I thought the colonists would need all the help they can get. Besides,” macDowell smirked at herself, “I’m a perfectionist. This thing will grow on Zooik-four soil, and it will take in nutrients even from Zooik Four plants, although it would be helped by having some basic modified grass or wheat planted near it.”

“Take in nutrients from…” Zenaford took a step forward. “What, exactly, did you do, Dr. MacDowell?”

“Here, I think you’d best see it.” She raised the view screen to show her Zooik-Four-contained environment.

Inside the hardened glass, a small, green sheep grazed contentedly at the end of a long stalk-like tether. Its wool looked like something like broccoli, its leaves rather like horseradish. “It’s a derivation of the Brassicaceae family, of course. Everything good is — well, that or nightshades, and they’re too tender.”

“…You made a carnivorous plant to feed the colonists?”

“Technically,” macDowell couldn’t help but offer, “I made an herbivorous plant.”

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Some more living on an ocean planet

After this

Tropical life was weird. Austin was on the building crew, and so he and William and Mable had gotten first dibs on their choice of house.

They’d chosen a shelter on what they were now calling Auswilma Island, an acre-and-a-bit hilly, wooded lot with steep drops to the water on three sides and a nice casual hill down on the side immediately opposite The Big Island. They got there first, so even though they’d have to share it with two or three other houses – two were built, and there was room for a third – they claimed naming rights.

But owning their own island wasn’t the weirdest part, any more than swimming the narrow channel between Auswilma and Big Islands twice a day to get to ‘work’ was, or bedding down to sleep while the weather was so warm they couldn’t stand to touch each other for more than a few minutes.

Weirdest was the wildlife, mainly flighted animals, and the way a couple of them seemed to latch onto each colonist and follow them around. Austin’s were a blue-and-marmalade-patterned thing the size of his hands together and a dark-buff-colored thing whose wingspan was bigger than Austin’s. At night, they roosted on the roof of the house, his and William’s red-and-blue pair and Mable’s trio of mostly-black ones. During the day, they followed them around.

When the big one dove into the water next to Austin and pulled out an eel-thing twice his size, Austin was suddenly very grateful indeed for their company.

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A short fic of an ocean planet

As far as they’d been able to tell, the land masses on Esto IV consisted of three archipelagos, none of which had a single island larger than a square mile, and one single island of about two miles square with erratic volcanic activity.

It wasn’t an ideal situation – their colony ship had been packed for farming a temperate, land-locked area fed by several rivers – but it was far better than eating vacuum, which is what they’d been looking at when the ship developed a critical flaw halfway through their trip.

If they ever regained contact with the home company, Martina might have something to say to them about their ship construction. Right now, she was far more focused on an entirely different sort of ship and its build.

There was room for them to live across the bigger islands, all thousand and seventeen surviving colonists and ship’s crew, and there was room enough to grow some sort of crops, but most of their livelihood was going to have to come from the sea, and only a few of the islands were close enough to connect by bridges. Boats were going to be a large portion of their lives.

Martina studied the pieces of ship she had managed to pull off with a blowtorch, and contemplated shapes. The seas’ tides were like nothing at all on Earth, unbroken by continents, shifted by two small moons. Their boats would have to be steady and resist tipping; their sailors would have to have stomachs of iron.

Nearby, Sim and Imp were working on a series of stilted houses just a little off the beach. Martina swallowed a wry grin. She’d been thinking about a tropical vacation for years. Now she was going to live it.


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Planning for Spring, a ficlet for the Christmas Prompt Call

written to Kelkyag‘s prompt.

“I’ll start with carrots,” Agnieszka decided. “And then green onions. Chives, too. And then peas. Peas like it a little cold, right? Spinach and lettuce and start some tomatoes inside, and some peppers…”

“I’ll build a pavilion,” Natalia mused. “And an outdoor shower. It gets pretty warm, yeah? I’ll rig up a shadecloth or something for your plants. Let the goats out to frolic – I’ll have to set up a fence, if that wide plain over there doesn’t turn out to be a lake. Swimming! A nice big platform for proper sunbathing…”

The colony pod for Sieamans III was climate-controlled, with Sol-style sunlamps and a well-stocked hydroponic garden, a lap pool and a holographic relaxation deck. With the long, long seasons, the colonists needed it. But somehow, none of that compared to the daydreams, planning for the year when spring would finally get here.

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Thimbleful Thursday: Jumping the Gun

In many places, they called it jumping the broom. In Gospeck, it was jumping the gun.

Gospeck was a small colony in an out-of-the-way system, small enough where babies were a welcome and needed occurrence. They were a hard-luck sort of place, a poorly placed colony where the alien creatures attacked with no warning and no pattern. They needed everyone that could to carry babies, as fast as they could, or the colony would die.

They had little time for brooms and no time to wait for proof of pregnancy. They jumped the gun for two-year contracts, one to carry and one to protect, and hoped for the best.

written to Today’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt. In generic-space-colony ‘verse.

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Butterfly Colony, a story for the random prompt call

“So, let me get this straight.”

Alphonze Tertianno was a career bureaucrat, but he was thorough and conscientious about the paper he pushed & the beans he counted, although both were of the electron sort, of course.

“In the personal luggage of one colonist-“

“Which does not go through the same thorough decontamination as everything else,” offered the unhappy reporting assessor.

“-which does not go through the same decon as everything else, there were pupae?”

“Papilio aegeus, sir. Citrus butterflies.”

“And they…”

“They appeared to like the climate of Somascha Four, yes.” The assessor was being very patient. Either that, or she was trying not to laugh.

“…whose native species survive primarily on a series of…”

“On a very citrus-like plant, yes, sir.”

“Are you telling me Matthias Cornellius introduced a chaos butterfly onto our colony?”

“That…” It wasn’t a laughing matter. But it was a matter of laugh or cry, and thus… “yes. That is exactly what I am trying to tell you, sir.”

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Solstice, 50 words, @dahob

The longest night of the year. They stood, outside their prefab barracks, and stared at an alien sky.

The world was different, the stars, even the weather. But they lit candles made from alien fat and held them up to the dark night, to the black skies. And they sang.

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