03/13/2023 Snippet, GHOSTS ON AN ALIEN WIND.


I’d never been to Erebus Dig before; and even if I could go back there, I wouldn’t, ever again. The very look of it reeked of awfulness as I set the hauler down on the overgrown pad — and, yeah, I know: you can’t see smells. I saw it anyway.

When we got out, I also saw that the pad wasn’t overgrown enough. Somebody had used Earthtech reaction engines on it in the recent past. Oft noticed it, too. “How long, Pam?” he asked me.

“Not recently,” I decided. “A year, maybe? There’s still soot marks from the burned-off vines, but no smell.” One-Eighteen’s ground vines looks normal to us, but we don’t burn any of them if we can help it. Their sap collects copper and iron, and the smell when it ignites can be a bit much. “They didn’t clear away the brush, though.”

“Doing so might have attracted notice, if somebody flew over this site from the air” Oft responded. “A small chance, to be sure, but the Scouts are famously known for being ready for anything. I hope they did not use this pad very often.”

I didn’t ask him by what Oft meant by ‘hope,’ because I could make a few guesses, myself — and none of them sounded very nice. There was also always the chance that he’d come up with something even worse that I hadn’t thought of.