Voices/Future Tense

An Orions’ Arm E-zine

Travelers’ Notes: Getting To The Ground

John B

The subtle ‘click’ as the docking portals interface always excites
me. I know it sometimes leads to disappointment, but often enough the
excitement is justified – as there’s a new place to explore, new
people to meet, new things to try, just the other side.

The portals open with a slight hesitation. A flicker at a control
lens gets a green light – our bushbot repair service will be on that
shortly, but my attention’s really not on that trivia, as important
as it is.

The hab extends a good long ways from here, glowing green with the
plants illuminated by the sunthread stretching the whole length. A
couple flocks of birds swoop and soar – wait, those are people in
bird-suits! Wonderful, I’ve always enjoyed flight, and it looks like
these suits are a bit different than any I’ve seen before.

There’s no clear gridding of bulk agriculture, thank goodness – just
disparate groups of forests and plains and shrublands intermingling
in a pleasant pattern. There’s a good sized minisea out there, taking
up a good third of the hab tube at the widest.

Only now, with the cleaner scrubbing eir way across it, do I notice
that the chamber I’m entering has a clear wall on the far side of the
entry. Flicking my way forward with little grabs and tugs in the
microgravity, I approach the wall closer. Its crystal clarity is
wonderful, or its resolution is fine enough to fool even my eyes.
Either way doesn’t really matter – it’s quite pleasant either way.

A message from the local translation service directs me off to the
side, towards a small cubby waiting to whisk me to the hab surface.
Gently tugging my way into the cubby, I settle with my feet sinking
into the outlined gaps on what will be the floor. A tiny whisking
noise as a portal closes and there’s pressure ‘down’ as the cubby
accellerates towards the rim.

A couple seconds later, the normal “ding” and spinning warning lights
come on, and I brace as the cubby rotates 180 degrees across the axis
of accelleration as it slows down. It’s not well adjusted, leading to
my needing to push gently off of the roof for a minute, but it wasn’t
too rough, and I’m mostly just anxious to get my feet dirty again.

Another ding, and the cubby stops with another portal showing. It
whisks open onto the top of a hill at the endcap of the hab. Off to
one side I see a birdsuit fabjob, with a short line of people waiting
their turn. Putting aside my want to fly for the moment, I step out
of the hab and tumble.

Sheepishly turning off the micrograv travel mode, I readjust to a
baseline standard gravity. Legs locking beneath me, I rise back up
and dust myself off. NOT how I wanted to get my feet dirty – but hey,
they’re dirty. Might as well be happy about it.

*****

More about the author, John B, here.

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