It's been an eventful day, but let me start at the beginning.
I spent a long time deliberating on a course of action for the week. Knowing Margaret exists just beyond the mountain, I wanted a way to connect our two homes. If Margaret could access my crops and watch after them on any days without rain, I would feel a lot more comfortable heading out into the wilderness for a few days to explore farther than I've been able to go previously. There are two real options to connect our lands. I can build a safe, reinforced tunnel beneath the mountain out of the already pre-existing network of caves, or I can build a tower that scales up the side of the cliff to the top of the mountain. I really like the idea of a tall tower to give me a vantage out over my own valley, but I really lack the necessary resources to build it. I need more manpower in order to make these two projects a reality.
Early this morning, I set out to discuss the situation with Margaret and get her input. I also asked her about the campsites that I've been finding all over the place. To my surprise, she told me that there were other humans on the planet who had passed by quite recently. They had not taken any interest in her, so she hadn't gotten the chance to socialize with them to her sincere disappointment. They spent the night on a nearby mountain and were heading west the last time she had seen them. This news changed everything.
I spent much of the day leading Margaret through the series of caves to my side of the mountain so she would know the way. As we went, I made sure to properly light the path with torches and cover any dangerous ravines with wooden planks and platforms. It is quite an uncomfortable journey even with better lighting and footing. It's a temporary solution for now, but Margaret is also convinced we need to make a dramatic change. Nevertheless, she now has a clearly marked path to and from our homesteads. She promised to take care of the crops while I"m away. After I finish this entry, I plan to set out tonight to try and catch up with the human campers.
One last thought, though: Margaret is an odd creature. She doesn't seem to have much awareness about space or what lies beyond the surface of our planet. She has no knowledge of the planet's name, or really what a planet even is. She doesn't understand why I'm so worked up about these nomadic humans, or what it could mean for me if I find them. They could be the ticket to getting off this rock if they happen to have a ship. They could even be from a human settlement that we could potentially move into that would be more self-sustaining than our simple farms. Everything may change if only I can find these humans.
Week 2 - Day 2 - "Meeting Alex"
It's late. I had a long day. I hiked for almost twenty-four hours through the mountains and valleys west of Margaret's place. I finally managed to catch up to all that remains of the human explorers. I found a broken man at an all but abandoned campsite named Alex. We talked long into the night. I think it's getting close to dawn right now. I can't keep my eyes open much longer, but finding Alex has been quite disappointing and somber to say the least.
Alex is the last man of a five-man team that was sent to survey the moons of Talitha Rim I. Apparently that's the name of the golden planet we are orbiting. The two moons were likely candidates to start a new colony for the displaced human survivors such as ourselves, but over the month the team spent here tragedy befell the group. Now only Alex remains. They do ... Alex does not have a ship of his own. They were dropped off here while other teams were dropped in other locations. The ship that sent them on this mission never returned to collect them. Alex has been waiting for several months and has given up hope. I don't know what this means for me, yet. I'm much too tired to think anymore about it today.
I'd like to take Alex back east with me, but he seems insistent on staying here at their main camp. They chose the location for its proximity to a nearby mine - abandoned long ago by some unknown prospectors. Alex assures me the mine is dangerous and the first of his team was lost trying to explore its depths. He claims winged creatures with long, elastic tongues lurk just below the surface of the planet. I sympathize with him and his loss, but I fear if he stays here all alone he will join his teammates in death. I will have another try to convince him tomorrow.
Week 2 - Day 3 - "The Beacon"
Alex refuses to return with me. He is adamant in remaining here at camp. He claims its the safest place on the planet, but was panic-stricken when I tried to enter the nearby mine shaft. He dragged me out by my arm before I got to the first set of platform stairs heading into the depths below. I'm not sure what to do about Alex. I can see that grief is causing him to lose his judgment. Aside from that, I did discover something quite valuable. Just inside the mines there is a device - a seismic transmitter - that is monitoring the geology of the planet and sending a signal to some unknown receivers. It's quite possible that I could adjust the device to transmit a distress signal instead. Alex didn't care much about the machine so I packed it up and took it homeward with me. Perhaps tomorrow I will set it up to broadcast a simple message into space.
Perhaps there is hope of a rescue after all for Alex and myself - and Margaret if she chooses to come with us.
Week 2 - Day 4 - "Tunnel Construction"
Margaret has insisted we begin work on a tunnel to connect our two homes. Apparently making the trip through the natural caves is as unpleasant for a Glitch woman as a human man. We were up before the sun rose to get started on this large project. Margaret was able to use the seismic survey machine to get accurate readings on where to construct the tunnel so that we would accurately connect both sides of the mountain at the right altitude. It was slow going once we got started with only a broken matter manipulator between the two of us, but Margaret is quite skilled as a structural engineer. The two of us have a wealth of skills that will make living on this planet more comfortable indefinitely.
When we finally broke ground on my side of the mountain, Margaret began construction on my house while I worked on the transmitter. She insisted it wasn't right for me to live in such a simple shelter with a sleeping bag. She set to work on upgrading my tiny farmstead into a real home. I helped here and there, but most of my attention went to fine tuning the distress beacon. Hopefully, it will reach someone in space soon.
Week 2 - Day 5 - "Home Improvements"
The construction on my house was completed today. Margaret returned to her own valley about halfway through the day. Before heading out, Margaret built me a table and chairs as well as a soft bed from the fabric she'd been making in her spare time this week. She is quite extraordinary. I think in days to come I may return to exploring and gathering resources so that Margaret can continue to put them to good use. It seems like the best application of our skills at this point. She seems content with our modest amount of food and our humble homes, but I'm constantly thinking of what we can do to improve the situation here on this small moon of Talitha Rim I.
Neither of us have heard anything from Alex. We are both growing extra crops for him, now, but I wish he would just come live over here on our side of the mountains. I'm worried about him living alone in such a remote location.
Week 2 - Day 6 - "Contact!"
I awoke early this morning to a strange humming coming from my second floor. Apparently, my distress signal had been received and a small frigate was on its way to the planet. Unfortunately, they were also in distress and looking for a place to set down for repairs. It appears we are going to have guests. I rushed through the new tunnel to tell Margaret that more people were coming. As always, she was delighted at the prospect of new company. Her only regret was not having any tea to serve.
There is no way to know how many are coming or how long they will be staying to make the repairs. It's clear, though, that we need to expand our farming efforts in order to feed any more mouths for any amount of time. Margaret and I agreed that consolidating our farming efforts would be our best chance at survival for now, so we set to work leveling and tilling up Margaret's Valley which had much more land available for farming. Margaret set out to cultivate more corn, potatoes and rice. I spent the entire day building a makeshift barn in the middle oft he valley where we could store up grain and crops. I'm sure in the future Margaret will make necessary upgrades to the barn, but for now it does the job.
Week 2 - Day 7 - "The Arrival"
The frigate arrived sooner than I expected. Today I met with the three crew members of the Naka. The captain is a Hylotl named Shinobu whose motley crew includes the Avian, Chef Ihui, and the Floran, Mar Ryespine. Her skillset has not been disclosed to me yet. It's not clear to me if Shinobu is a man or a woman, but it seems impolite to ask. Margaret came over to greet the crew at my place where we had a simple lunch of corn and potatoes toasted lightly on a campfire. Chef Ihui was not pleased.
I offered to let the crew stay in my home until we could make other accommodations, but they decided that was not necessary. Ihui was insistent we get a kitchen set up for him right away so we could all enjoy a proper dinner. After living on rice, pearlpeas, corn and potatoes for two weeks I could not be more delighted at this proposition. We took the crew of the Naka to Margaret's Valley where Ihui overlooked the crops. Between the five of us, we decided the best place to set up a temporary barracks would be within the tunnel itself. Only Mar seemed displeased at the lack of sunlight living under the mountain, but Shinobu assured her that she would get plenty of time outdoors in the days to come.
Between the five of us, construction of the barracks went quickly and smoothly. There were finally enough people available to clear a considerable amount of land, gather enough resources and construct a working home all at once. Margaret oversaw construction with Ihui and me, while Shinobu and Mar gathered up the stone, wood and dirt necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Unlike my first nights on this moon, they will sleep well in beds tonight.
Next week we have to assess the damages to the Naka and prepare to get her shipshape.
- Excepts from the Journal of Edge Valiant on the Founding of the Valiant Empire