Children of Karive

They giggled through the tall grass, the echoes of their voices bouncing off the small hills. They didn’t stop running, they went and went, over shallow streams and smooth rocks, across large fields and sparse deserts. They didn’t stop until they reached their destination, but their destination was unknown to them. When it was near they would know. A slight tingle on their backs would occur, their laughter would grow louder with their excitement. This was one of those times. As they approached it, their laughter slowed and eventually ceased, for they had found something quite unusual.

They paused 100 yards away, wondering if this was close enough. From their position, a dull hum could be distinctly heard over their natural surroundings. It, whatever ‘it’ was, would occasionally emit a loud TICK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK which at first startled them. The brave one decided to move closer while the timid one stayed back. In all their group was composed of the brave one, and the timid one, of which you’ve already met, as well as the comedian, the cunning one, and the artistic one. As the brave one approached with heavy feet it began to light up, slowly it flashed first red then white and repeated, red, white, red, white. Perplexed but undaunted the brave one approached more cautiously. The further he progressed without incident the more confident he became, at about 20 yards away it pulsed again, this time with a vivid green it began to expand slowly at first, but faster and faster. It began to hum louder, and instead of an occasional noise, it began to CLACK incessantly. This startled them all, including the brave one. They ran back, further and further. 150 yds. CLACK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK. 200 yds. CLACK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK. 300 yds. CLACK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK. At 400 yds, the sound began to fade. Slowly the streams and animals took over.

They returned back to the settlement as quickly as they could, this was difficult as their oxygen was beginning to run low. It had been 57 years since their grandparents had arrived, they used to speak of the glory of Earth, but here there was no such life. The environment here on Karive was violent and unpredictable, much of it unknown. It is impossible for them to know, but they have encountered a rather simple mechanism left behind from the first attempt. Or at least that is what it was commonly refereed to as. When human spaceflight was beginning to show true colonial promise the first attempt was sent to Karive in the year 2112. This attempt ended in near disaster after they suffered a critical engine failure of unknown origin. The children don’t know this yet, and perhaps they never will.

The brave one urged them to hurry. He seemed tense and worried which was quite unusual for someone of his type. They sped up and approached the settlement. Each settlement had 16 pods, in each pod there were 2 families. A family consisted of 2 parents and 2 children, no more no less. Across the surface of Karive there were a total of 78 settlements, which means there are a total of 9984 individuals living on Karive. No more, no less. Each pod had a specific purpose, Pods 1–6 were food pods, they are responsible for the production of food for all members in their settlement. Pods 6–8 is Maintenance, responsible for keeping current systems operational. Pod 9 is Engineering, responsible for systems upgrades. Pods 10–12 is scientific research, which is sent back to Earth. Pods 12–14 are the Heritage Pods, which are devoted to passing the culture of Earth on to the next generations. Pods 15–16 were Security and Exploration, of which the brave one was a member.

The brave one thought that there is something honorable about going out in a blaze of glory. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps he wasn’t. Either way his parent’s spoke of the first expedition to Karive with great admiration. If the brave one didn’t know better he would think that he would like to be on that mission; exploring unknowns and venturing forth into uncertainty. Now they protected the other settlers from life on Karive, but they yearned to abandon the same.

You see the world around them had become too routine for them. They patrolled the same areas, and trudged through their past footprints in the sand. They returned to the same homes, and looked at the same landscape. Around the table with hushed voices they told each other “This isn’t why I came here.” or “This isn’t what we’re meant to do”. The Brave one sat listening to these discussions. His head nodded when specific points came up, and his brow furrowed at the more nuanced ones.

He was young, and brave for his age. Being one of the first humans born on Karive some 17 years ago, he knew the area quite well. In fact this was the only area he knew, this was due to a limitation of oxygen supply. The others continued discussing, while he started to dream about new modifications for his oxygen tanks, and more efficient respirator designs. Those who had come to Karive were somewhat lucky, the atmosphere was thin. They only required oxygen tanks and respirators. Someone once had compared it to Mount Everest the Brave one remembered. Whatever that means. He dozed off, climbing mountains in his sleep while the others bickered.

The pods are all attached to an opaque dome, which lies in the middle of the circle formed by the pods. Inside the dome lies one of the 78 terraformed spaces on the surface of Karive. The members of the food pod spend their time here, examining the roots and soil composition and making minute adjustments to the humidity, temperature and atmospheric content of the dome. Inside the dome looked very similar to earth if it wasn’t for the opaque walls. They were a full blue color, chosen to mimic the blue skies of Earth, but in reality missing a certain essence. This was the home of the timid one. He was more at home among the Earth plants than those of Karive. He shuddered at the thought of the fields of Karive with it’s tall grasses and sparse trees. He had grown up inside the dome, and as a result, despite living on Karive his whole life, the outside looked peculiar and foreign to him.

The timid one rarely left the enclosure of the dome, in fact it took quite a bit of coercing by the others to get the timid one to do anything. For him everything was just a little bit too risky. The timid one had his reasons, his dome was comfortable and stable. He could be certain of his surroundings, he couldn’t say this for the outside of the dome. While the others went off and wandered through Karive’s peculiar landscapes the timid one stayed back and looked after the plants. He would hear the stories of their adventures and live through them, but never participating himself.

The day they found the mechanism was a very rare day. The timid one had decided to join the others. He now regretted that decision as he thought back to the apparent danger he was in. He returned to his roots and moved on to the next plant he had to fertilize. Every once in a while he would look up, but his gaze would not go far as the opaque blue dome blocked his line of sight.