Alba returned to the greenhouse with a sigh of relief. She was a genius with plants, but people, not so much. The interview with Harold did not go well: she lost her temper with Chevron, and probably just raised the droid’s suspicions. Here, in the quiet of plants growing slowly, she relaxed.
It was Alba’s gift of horticulture that brought them to Widget’s Landing. Once the colony was determined to be viable, a call went out across the galaxy for a gardener/researcher. Chevron encouraged her to apply: her fellowship on Washington Starship was wrapping up, and Chevron was temping on Outer Jersey, a three-week rocket away. The position included transport for family, which guaranteed they could be together.
Alba beat hundreds of other applicants with her revolutionary techniques, and willingness to move immediately. They landed two months later.
Getting to know everyone in a five, now seven, member colony isn’t difficult – figuring out how to get along with them is more challenging. At their first community meeting, Chevron, a Ghoonie (a nomadic species known as excellent mediators), suggested the colonists cohabitate to reduce heating and save resources.
The rest of the colony was disinterested in cohabitation, and Marvo was outright hostile. “Why can’t we have a little space to ourselves? It’s a big planet, and we’re already clustered here together like we’re magnetized.” This grew a grumble from Howard, who was in fact able to adjust his magnetic field.
Glyph agreed that her own hut was freezing most of the time, but as most colonists spent the day in communal workspaces, at the medical center, the charging station, or the greenhouse, they only came home for dinner and sleep. “The cold just makes us cuddle,” she winked to Rudy, her new partner. He laughed and moved the meeting on to the next item, sanitation management.
Alba considered that meeting the tipping point that led to their break-in. Someone must have taken offense (though who could dislike Chevron?), and “sent them a message.” They would just have to pay attention, and sooner or later they’d find out who did it. After all, there were only five other colonists to watch.
She wandered over to her lemon tree. Her first lemons were turning yellow, and the scent of the bright citrus calmed her. She stood quietly next to the plant, letting the oxygen wash over her. Her eyes closed, she didn’t notice the face peering in the greenhouse.