I spent a full six hours in the farming simulator today (there were four crashes and one hang where the world froze around me for five minutes straight before Oversight rebooted the program). Now I know the following:
In addition to my time in the sim, I spent two hours in the terrarium playing in the dirt so I could experience “the real thing.” My muscles are just as weak as they were before my VR training sessions, but at least my brain knows what to do now.
After my shift I went up to the window on Level 9. Dawn and I haven’t been seeing much of each other lately, and it was nice to spend some time together. We watched it rain on the PIB-1176 for the first time today. You could hear the sound of the drops drumming against the ship’s shell through the window if you put your ear up to the glass.
Harris and the rest of the enviros say that water is ultimately what concerns them the most about PIB-1176. Not that the atmosphere will be too toxic, but that the planet might simply be too dry to sustain life. It was a huge relief to see the rain. All of that equipment out there must be working, I guess.
“What do you think rain feels like on your skin?” Dawn asked.
“Like a shower,” I said. “Probably.”
“No,” she said. “Showers are too strong. Rain is softer, I think. And you can walk around in it. You don’t have to just stand in once place.”
“I’m sure Oversight knows,” I said. “It could program us a new sim, maybe.”
Lightning flashed over the black prairie and the rumble of thunder shook the Hierophant.
“I’ve had enough of the sims,” Dawn said. “I never want to look at another screen for the rest of my life.”
“Whatever it feels like, I’m looking forward to experiencing it,” I said.
For a brief moment her hand brushed against mine. We held still, and then I slowly moved my hand on top of hers.
“I think we’ll be happy here,” I said. “Despite it all.”
Watching rain is addicting. It’s like most things: the more you think about it the crazier it seems.
After the storm, the excess water drained down into the dropholes, washing away the dust. They’re deep. Unbelievably deep. When a drone flew down into the hole that got Trent, it had to turn back around before it could reach the bottom.
Dr. Robertson has locked herself in her dorm for the past few days. She and her brother disagreed on most everything, but still she’s inconsolable. For now the interns have taken over her rounds, but nobody is sick, really, so all they have to do is hand out the occasional anti-anxiety pill and manage the last of the habitability trials.
I never really knew my sister. Unlike me, Clair was born in hyperspace and never got to see PIB-1176 with her own eyes.
We named the planet Haven. It won by 13 votes, just narrowly defeating New Earth.
To be honest, I don’t like the new name. It’s too melodramatic.