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16 September 2015 @ 12:15 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 33  
 

Chapter Fourteen

Ebsa was hard put to not cry himself as they walked silently back to the others.

He tried for lightness though. "Well, there's a proper, friendly, First Contact."

Wxxo clouted his shoulder. "Yeah, well, I'm going to miss those little squeakers though. It was kinda fun having some kids underfoot."

"Yeah." Ebsa glanced up at the hot sun. "Although I'm not totally sorry to have them out of this mess.

"Ocho tells me that the water table is falling. Uhci says the sun shows no signs of peaking. I'm going to suggest that most of us 'bubble up' as you call it. So if we really are stuck here, we have supplies to get us through the start of . . . colonization."

Ebsa nodded. "I think that's wise."

Iqgu walked up in time to hear that. "We need to keep a constant watch for as long as we can. Any rescue is likely to be soon . . . and then shift to standard marooning protocols . . . searching on the solstices."

Ebsa nodded. "I'll talk to Ocho . . . I've never done such a thing, but I understand that the bubbles can hold a whole lot. In theory we can bubble the whole slab and all the buildings."

"Huh. Well, that'll make it all more pleasant inside."

"Yeah. We'll keep the crawler out. Leave twelve meters of the central road empty, and if it gets too hot we'll back the crawler in and close the bubble for, umm twenty minutes on the inside would get us into fall, on the outside."

Wxxo nodded. "I wonder if Ocho can move the water tank onto the slab. The fab needs a whole lot of water. You'll need water too, on the crawler. I'll talk to him."

Iqgu and Ebsa eyed each other.

Ebsa shrugged. "I'll stick it out until it gets so hot I worry about the crawler's tires melting. If it gets just hot enough to be seriously debilitating, we can switch out."

Wxxo's proposition didn't sit well with the scientists.

"But they will come looking for us! We are a large project with over a hundred people here!" Itchy crossed his arms stubbornly.

"The President's daughter is here. They have to be searching for us." Uhci glanced at the Sun. "And I still have date to collect."

"Automate it. Dr Itchy, the gate went down over a month ago. They haven't found us yet. Hopefully they will, but in the mean time, we need to save the supplies we have for . . . possibly after the sunspot cycle has peaked and the temperatures have dropped. Some time that we will be able to live here."

Wxxo nodded at the teamers. "And we'll have people standing watch, waiting for a gate."

The grumbling died down a little. Being stranded on a strange world was more fun to read about than to experience. Especially when the most obvious source of food is eating giant rats.

Ocho worked over his piping, and shifted the water tank to the slab, unfortunately the only space large enough was Ebsa's kitchen and dining area . . .

Ebsa topped off all of the crawler's water tanks, and filled bottles as well. The shower water was recycled, but they would still lose a lot of water.

We should have let Nighthawk recycle all the water. But really, no matter how hot it gets during the day, we can always come back at night and pump water out of Ocho's well bore, it goes deep.

He and Paer got drafted to help run heavy equipment. Ocho rearranged the gate area. They stacked meter sized blocks of stone into two parallel walls, then a sizable chunk of the mess tent slab was pried up and transported to the gate area to bridge them and form a shelter the crawler could fit into. With lots of mass to slow down the heat during the day.

The day the temperature hit 47 degrees, all opposition melted.

As soon as the sun was down, they started.

Ebsa had dug down under the foundation at the southern end. Paer pulled the metal bars apart and handed him one. Nothing visible on one side, on the other, a bronze sheet stretching between the two bars. He shoved his side down the hole, watching the bronze sheet slide down the concrete, apparently unbothered by the gravel packed against most of it. He hooked the bronze sheet around the bottom corner of the cement slab and stood to hand the bar to Yeahza on the roof of the first building.

Yeahza stretched to get the bronze sheet over the tarp shade, and walked it forward. The edge of the bronze sheet showed no inclination to cut through anything.

Wxxo had had them park the utes in between the buildings. Ebs climbed onto the first, balanced on the roof and reached up to take the bar. From this side, he could see the bronze squeezing down around the building. "This isn't going to be very popular. I wonder how much space it will span without sagging all the way down?"

Yeahza eyed it. "Yuck." He climbed across to the next building. and Ebsa handed it up to him. Across, he could see Paer and Octo relaying the other bar. He ducked down for a quick look. The bubble was draping down over the ute, but but only sagging down a half meter between building and vehicle.

"There's plenty of free space for moving between buildings." Octo was kneeling and peering. He stood up and dusted off his hands. "I'm going to string up some ropes over the wider gaps, so we have some open spaces."

Ebsa trotted around to the far side to continue the relay.

The northern end of the center street had been left empty, in case they needed to back the crawler into it. Ocho was zigzagging rope across between tarps and the bronze bulged through a bit, but did give them a wide open space.

Much less claustrophobic.

Yeahza and Ocho handed down the bars, and climbed down.

Ebsa nodded to Wxxo. "We'll check in once a week—for us. That'll barely be a minute for you."

"Hopefully with good news." Ocho tapped his watch. "Minute and a half, and we'll come out to see what went wrong."

Ebsa nodded and pulled the handle across and handed it to Paer.

They were silent as they drove up to the gate area. Ebsa backed into the big garage. The bubble handles went against the wall. The old beacon at the entrance, where it would get shaded light. Plenty to work on, but hopefully not get so hot it couldn't function. Set up the motion detector. A couple of blinking light on either side of the garage.

Hello! If we don't see you, here we are!

Ebsa looked out at the quiet night. Not even any crickets. The stars were bright and brilliant. Please come get us soon, this is not a world I'd choose to be marooned on. Even with Paer.