(Part 4 of 4. An introduction to Drifters Rising, the first novel in the Finding Earth series. Drifters Rising will be available on 5/2/2017.)

“Any questions?” Piers used the ramp into the ship as his podium. As he expected, no one responded. A full year after landfall and everyone knew the score. One thousand and seventeen people had died. Those who survived had been tested. Those with too much of certain chemicals in their body were told which type of food, Sian or Lintu, they would be eating for the rest of their lives.  Adults under the poison thresholds could choose.  Minors that had a choice were required to pick along family lines. Households with a Sian and Lintu parent would discuss and determine which parent would raise the child. If both parents were Sian and the child was Lintu, or vice versa, the child would live with a caregiver. It was too dangerous to have Sian and Lintu foods in the same house.  Some of the deaths were because people lived in mixed households.

Five settlements had been established. Cetus Landing, the site of landfall would retain both Lintu and Sian. This is where families that were split could live and still see each other. Taldalen, on the open plains, was a Sian settlement, as was the beach of Whiteshore. The Lintu moved to the woodland settlement of Yothsor, and to Mynview, atop a mountain range next to a series of waterfalls.

“Everyone has chosen their settlement and solar powered communications between the settlements are active.  Each settlement has already selected their Overseer and Sentinel and they have basic supplies in place.”

Nevada walked up to stand beside Piers. “We have all suffered, but Cetus will survive. For now, meals must come from the central Lintu or Sian feeding areas in your settlements. Each settlement will have a dietitian on site to review all foods before consumption. Please, until you are fully trained to scavenge for yourself, do not eat anything without dietitian approval. Good luck everyone. May your journey be calm.”

Those moving to other settlements headed out. Walking was the only transportation and the trip would take a while. Piers stood and watched the tearful goodbyes of family and friends. Fola and Laird hugged as she left with the Whiteshore Sians and he joined the Lintus of Mynview. They had been planning to wed. Unfortunately, theirs weren’t the only plans that changed. He turned and forced a smile for his children. “Are you ready?”

“Yes Father,” fifteen-year-old Cade replied.  His eleven-year-old sister, Sabrina, sniffled but nodded her head.

“Then come, let’s get you settled.” Piers walked calmly to a yurt on the west side of Cetus Landing and knocked.

Nelson pulled open the door, “Welcome. Cade, Sabrina, there’s a snack for you on the table.”

“I could eat,” Cade said as he eyed the food.

“You’re always hungry,” Sabrina huffed.

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“Go on,” Piers nodded as he hugged them both. “I’ll meet you both tomorrow for archery practice.”

The kids settled down with their snack.

“They’ll be fine and you’ll see them as much as you want. It’ll be like they’re at a boarding school.” Nevada placed a hand on his arm.

“Are you sure you’ll have room, what with the pregnancy?” Piers raised an eyebrow.

“How did you know?” Surprise etched Nevada’s face. She had been shocked the previous day when the doctors confirmed she was pregnant. Losing her twins to the poison had been horrible and she had decided to keep the pregnancy a secret until she was sure she would go to term.

“Honey, we’re in a small town now, and Piers knows everything. I don’t know how but he does.” Nelson turned to face Piers. “I know we got off to a rough start, and I’m still surprised you didn’t throw me out the airlock, but know this, your kids are safe here, always.”

“Nelson!”

He quirked a grin, “When I woke up and you weren’t there, I went a little nuts. You were supposed to wake first so I thought something was wrong with your pod and they weren’t telling me. I wasn’t very pleasant to be around.”

“Hmm.” They had been so busy she hadn’t really asked for details about why he came out of the pods before her, perhaps she should. To Piers she added, “We have plenty of room.”

“Thanks.” Piers said goodbye to his kids and walked back to his empty yurt on the east side of the settlement. His wife was dead. His children were Sian. He was Lintu. Being alone was not what he expected when he was selected to command one of the population ships that left earth. If anything, he thought he would have died before they made landfall and his family would have gone on without him. Being alone didn’t even make his radar.

He opened the door to his yurt to find Gilles getting comfortable in what had been his son’s room.

“Got space for my bedroll? I gave my yurt to Ormond’s horde. He and his wife took in five Lintu teens in addition to the three they brought into the world. They need another yurt much more than I need a huge space to myself.” Gilles sister and her kids had moved into a Sian yurt, leaving Gilles alone.

Piers laughed at the thought of orderly Ormond with eight teenagers.  “Do we need to up his rations?”

“Keala already did.”

Cetus NevadaYert GillesPiers20170409“In that case, have you tried her whiskey?” Piers held up two small cups and a liquid in a clear container. Once the men had their drinks, they faced the river and enjoyed a sunset view of their lush new world.

“Whiskey. The upside of being a Lintu, grains.”  Gilles reached for a cup and took a sip. “Man, Keala really can do it all.”

“And she’s Lintu. When are you going to ask her out?” Piers   watched the sky turn orange and sipped his drink.

Gilles coughed and spat out a couple of drops of whiskey. “Look what you made me do! That’s a waste of good whiskey, that is. And she’s turned down everyone who asked.”

“Maybe she’s waiting for the right person. We need to populate the planet and you know you like her. Do you really think anyone is more worthy of her than you?”

“No!”

“Then talk to her.”

Gilles huffed and turned to eye his old friend. Their mission had been to get the settlers to a new world. They did that and were now feeling their way to a new life. One without the high tech background they both had studied and prepared for their entire life. “How about you? A lot of Lintu women have sent signals your way.”

Piers shook his head. Only Gilles would have the courage to ask that question. Piers didn’t spill any of his whiskey.

CLICK HERE to read more flash fiction from the Finding Earth series.

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