“So, how are you holding up?”
Most of the voices on the radio blend together into a generic, static-infused blur, but I can always tell when it’s her.
“It’s cold. Colder than I thought it’d be. I’m going to have to move my camp somewhere with more shelter from the wind. And better soil.”
“You sound tired.”
“I’m not sleeping too well.”
“You should try the sleeping pills,” someone else said (it might have been Vikki from the hoverjeep ride, but I’m not sure).
Another voice, probably Hagerty’s: “Those don’t work for shit. I tried two. There’s nothing in ‘em but air if you ask me.”
“They’re not placebos.” Dr. Robertson’s voice. She’s back on the Hierophant monitoring our psychological well-being. “You’re just stressed, Frank. Give it another few days. If you’re still not getting any sleep we’ll pull you back to the ship for a while so you can rest.”
“I’m fine. I don’t need to go back to the ship.”
With only one channel for unofficial communication, there’s no privacy. Everyone’s problems are out in the open: the soil’s too rocky, the temperature’s too low, the wind’s too strong, nobody’s sleeping, people are worried about what happened to Harris, people are lonely, people are worried we aren’t alone, people are worried about the hundred different ways the planet could kill us. It’s comforting, I guess, to at least know that we’re all afraid of the same things.
“They finished the scan on the vent near my camp today,” a new voice crackled.
His signal faded in and out over the next few minutes. Dennis and the rest of the techs say the bad connections are caused by “atmospheric disturbance.” They’re going to try and adapt our equipment to the conditions here, but it will take time.
“What was in it?”
Sometimes people talk over each other in the chat channel. Sometimes there are arguments. I’m looking forward to being able to speak with people face to face again. Only three more days until the resupply run.
After breakfast I moved my camp closer to the pond and out of the wind. It’s nicer here, but I spent another hour wrestling with the tent trying to set it back up. You’d think it’d be easier the second time.
Woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of explosions and a flower of red flame bursting up into the sky. The sector I’m in has now officially been labeled as volcanically active. Command is going to send a few drones out to see if I need to be evacuated.
All the enviros say that the eruptions are a good thing. If PIB-1176 didn’t have volcanoes, then that would mean that the core of the planet was dead. Without a living core, there wouldn’t be any magma currents to generate a magnetic field. And with no magnetic field PIB-1176 wouldn’t support life.
I can appreciate them looking on the bright side of things, but all I can think about is how nice it was back on the Hierophant.
It’s just a minor eruption. No imminent danger. I’m to remain where I am and carry on as usual.