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Like everyone else, Elise was grateful to be alive, grateful the computer had found a habitable planet to set down on. She had probably reminded herself of that fact every single day over the past two years since their ship had negotiated a landing on the planet of Tor, now arbitrarily renamed New Earth by the interlopers, of which she was one.
It wasn't Earth. It was close enough to sustain dispossessed Earthlings, but it still missed the mark by a long shot--at least, old Earth, in the days before their home world had entered its death throes and begun to try to annihilate the parasites poisoning it.
She remembered. The golden age had been before her time, when civilization had reached a technological peak that guaranteed comfort for perhaps half the world's inhabitants. The economy and the ecology of the world had been reasonably stable then, according to what she'd learned in school, but even when the golden age had begun its decline and decay, the Earth hadn't been half bad. There were a lot of days when one could see beautiful blue skies, plenty of days when it felt good just to go outside. There'd been enough food, enough water, luxuries that could still be bought. There'd been leisure time. There'd been entertainment and time to enjoy it.
Earth had become wildly unstable long before the meteor hit it, however. Like everyone else, she'd clung to life by the skin of her teeth, just trying to survive while nature wreaked havoc, destroying pretty much everything man had built.
Tor was stable, but it wasn't like Earth in any period that she knew of, or had even read about. The gravity was roughly the same, the size, thecomponents that made up the atmosphere, but it was closer to its sun than Earth had been ... which meant that it was hot in the winter, and hotter in the summer.
Within the first week of landing on Tor, pretty much everyone had disposed of most of their clothing. They had brought all of the technology they could cram into their ship, and all the knowledge, and all the supplies, but it still took human labor to build, to hunt and grow food, and that meant exposure to the heat and humidity of Tor--New Earth.
Elise couldn't help but think it ironic that they'd traveled light-years only to find a world that was just about as fucking miserable as the one they'd left.
She shook the thought off. "I'm grateful to be alive," she muttered, wondering where the other evacuees had ended up.
They'd left Earth like viral spores, climbed aboard ship with no destination in mind, programmed their computers to find a place to live and scurried into their hyber units. A dozen different ships could have landed on Tor and they might never know it. They'd become 'cave' people, primitives, eking out an existence on a world not their own.
They were lucky the Torrines tolerated them, especially since, like children fearful of the dark, they'd established their colony within spitting distance of one of the larger Torrine cities. Because, despite the fact that the Torrines didn't make any bones about the fact that they weren't thrilled to have them, it gave the Earthlings comfort to be near civilization, even if it wasn't theirs.
Spying a fallen log and the 'shrooms' they'd discovered were not only edible, but pretty damned good, Elise dismissed her internal complaining, feeling a surge of relief as she moved quickly to the log and knelt to pick them. It looked like enough to fill her basket. Once she'd gathered her quota, she could retreat to the habitat and cool off.
There were poison shrooms among them, but she knew the difference. Not that it mattered, really, except that grabbing the wrong thing would mean she hadn't filled her quota and she'd have to go looking again. They never ate anything until they'd run it through the analyzer and checked it carefully, so she didn't have to worry about making everyone sick--or worse.
Lord help them if the thing ever malfunctioned, or just wore out!
It was beginning to look like technology, for them, was going to become a thing of the past, though. Unlike some of the ships, theirs hadn't boasted the most desirable balance of necessaries. They had three doctors (all specialists who knew virtually nothing beyond their field), but no nurses, a half a dozen engineers, but only one electronic repair technician, mechanics--but few things in need of mechanics, growers, but very little farming tools, equipment, or even plants or seeds. She was a teacher, one of a dozen, and there were only two children above the age of infancy, and one of them, the nineteen year old, couldn't actually be classified as a child.
She should've known she was in the wrong line. She was always in the wrong damned line!
Or maybe not. Maybe it had been preordained that she end up just where she had just by being who and what she was, a world class procrastinator and terminal optimist.
Their ship could have been named the USS Misfit, the USS Leftovers. Or maybe the USS Dumbshits Who Thought it Would All Blow Over and They Wouldn't Have to Leave.
Elise paused in her task, arching her aching back and rubbing it. It occurred to her after a moment that her foul mood wasn't just the heat. She was dog tired and hungry to boot. No wonder she had opticalrectumitis!
She studied the shrooms speculatively, but as hungry as she was, she didn't quite dare try them raw. It was one thing to have a good opinion of one's knowledge and something else entirely to stake one's life on it.