Settlers of the Void


Cabbage Farmer

Oversight has been printing books nonstop for the past three days. Hundreds of them on every subject imaginable: agriculture, economic theory, civil engineering, and even collections of poetry.

For now we’ve been storing them all in the gymnasium. I’m amazed we haven’t run out of paper, but there seems to be no end to it. Even though our ancestors were in a rush when they loaded the ship, I guess they always planned for this contingency.

It’s strange when you see the sum total of human knowledge spread out over a physical space. At first it felt like there was so much, more than anybody could read in a lifetime, but after a while it hit me that there isn’t as much as you might think. Worse, I’ve noticed lots of typos in what Oversight’s printed so far. Entire pages are missing or are interlaced with the digits of Pi. Derek says the landing was just as rough on the computer as it was on us, not just physically but emotionally too. It’s sick, he says, and it might not have much time left. If Oversight really does die, then at least we’ll have the books.

My handwriting is garbage. Dawn gave me a journal and a pen to practice with, so I’m writing this by the window on Level 9 where mom and dad sometimes took me to see the stars. It was one of the few places you could see through the shield ice and I used to be able to look at galaxies and nebulas and comets up here, all with perfect clarity. Now all I can see is the distant shadow of the soil grinder and an empty plain. It’s so unbelievably flat and desolate out there. None of the rocks are larger than a soccer ball.

Before the terraformers landed PIB-1176 must have been so quiet. Quiet, but useless, devoid of life, and completely inhospitable. Now things are different, maybe, but the captain won’t open the hatch until we’re 100% sure we won’t die from whatever trace gases might be lurking amidst all of that newly minted nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.

People are starting to get restless. A fight broke out in the cafeteria today between a mechanical engineer and a physicist. Both of them are spending the night in the brig. It’s funny: if we were still up in space nobody would give a damn about staying inside. But now that we’ve landed and we don’t need the torus to spin for there to be gravity, all anybody can talk about is getting out.

Personally I don’t really care if we have to wait a couple of more weeks to leave the ship. Like I said it’s nothing but rocks out there. When the time comes I’ll make the transition, but there’s no sense in rushing it.

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I’ve been assigned a new job: I’m going to be a cabbage farmer. When I got the notice I didn’t even know what cabbage was, but Oversight showed me a few pictures from way back in the pre-war days. It’s building a simulator game to help me practice working the soil and planting seeds.

Dawn’s been giving me pointers, too, of course. She holds nightly classes for those of us who converted to agriculture (over a hundred in total – mostly the navigators and astrophysicists). I feel like I’ve already forgotten most of the math I used to know.

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No sign of the rats. My best guess is that they’re in the ducts, but I checked and all of the grates are still intact. I hope they haven’t gotten into the seeds.