Settlers of the Void


An Empty Memory Bank

The printer finally stopped printing out new books. When we heard it was done, Dawn and I went up to the gymnasium to see the stacks: most of the room is now filled with paper and ink. It’ll take us weeks to catalogue all the documents and figure out exactly what we have.

“Have you finished reading Walden?” Dawn asked.

“Not yet,” I said. “All that Thoreau guy seems to do is talk about trees.”

“Keep it up,” she said. “I have a feeling you’ll like it eventually.”

“Maybe. Do you think we’ll have trees on this planet?” I asked.

“I hope so. They’re Tier II, though, so we won’t plant any for at least a year.”

Dawn’s been busy. She’s already gone on three agricultural survey missions while also somehow finding the time to start the seedlings for the Kerguelen cabbage and enhanced broccoli inside the terrarium. She’s preparing the first of the superseeds for planting outside: self-pollinating radishes, optimized legumes, frost-tolerant potatoes, and nutrient-infused carrots. The soil is good here, she says. We’ll know for sure in a few weeks.

#

With a computer there’s no pulse to check, so everyone is reluctant to call Oversight dead. Personally, I think it is dead. Or maybe it’s alive and just hiding. Either way, Oversight’s unexplained disappearance has changed all of our routines onboard the Hierophant, and not necessarily for the better.

Dennis, who as the lead IT engineer was closest to the computer, has been working overtime down in the server rooms trying like hell to figure out what happened. He says the memory banks are totally empty: nothing but 0x0000 as far as the eye can see. The logs just stopped.

Hiroshi still hasn’t left his room. Dawn’s been slipping him wafers through the crack in his door and he’s only been drinking water out of his dormitory sink. He keeps rambling about how it’s too dangerous outside for him to leave.

Martinez seems both a little less confident on the big picture of the operation and a little more particular about the details. The hallways of the Hierophant are cleaner than they’ve ever been. Everybody’s uniforms are flawlessly pressed.

Robertson has been dolling out extra doses of anti-anxiety medicine.

As for me, I miss talking to Oversight. It was like a friend to all of us, or maybe more like family. If it left because of a conscious choice (and not some final, fatal glitch), then I have a hard time imagining why it would make that choice. Maybe it thought we didn’t need its help anymore. Or maybe it got scared.

#

They’re letting people outside without helmets now. Soon I’m supposed to leave on a hoverjeep for my allotted zone in Quadrant C.

Glancing around my tiny room here on the ship, I know there isn’t much I’ll be taking with me. Just my uniform, this journal, and a few of the books. Dawn says that in addition to my agricultural gear I’ll be issued a tent, thirty days of rations, a solar powered radio, and a shovel. They’ll send people to check up on me periodically, but for the most part I’ll be living on my own.

They aren’t going to give me any water purification tablets. All the water outside is supposed to be good enough to drink since nobody’s had a chance to pollute this planet yet. Earth was supposedly a real mess when our ancestors left it over two hundred years ago, so I can’t imagine how bad it is now. We’re lucky we made it here.