[from “No Place Like Home,” a short story written for Star Colonies]
WE PUT DOWN at the equator because it was the warmest latitude on the planet. Also the flattest.
“And the most boring,” Grady said, hunched over the viewport.
“And the safest,” I said, trying to peer over his shoulder.
“Well, it’s no place like home.”
“Not yet,” I said. “Give us time.”
There wasn’t much of that going around, and we both knew it. “Look at that darker patch of ground over there. Do you remember if any of the scans showed iron ore deposits in this area?”
“There’s nothing here, Grady,” I said, relieved at the change of subject. “That’s why we landed here, nothing to trip over. Don’t worry, I’ll have the rover up and running in a week and you can prospect your little heart out. That ridge we scanned from our last orbit is less than fifty klicks away.”
He didn’t say anything, but then he didn’t have to. We came from the same place, a planet with too many people and not enough room, where children went hungry, and now some were starving because funds and materiel had been funnelled to this expedition. I thought of my nieces, Joanna and Annie, and my nephew, David. Odds were I’d never see them again, but if I did my job and didn’t screw up, I might help give them a future.
The space station, the habitats at L-4 and L-5, the colonies on the moon, they were self-supporting but their capacity was limited. We needed somewhere to go, a suburbial planet, a bedroom community for six billion. Joanna was eighteen, David ten, Annie two. This planet was theirs.
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