"So how many classes are you planning on taking this semester?" David asks at dinner the night before the new school year is due to start.
"Somewhere between 27 and 33, depending on whether or not we're pregnant." Josette says. "Shaddap." She says at his smirk.
"Are you finishing degrees?"
"Yeah, I'm finishing one this semester. I'm finishing two more degrees this year, one on teacher and one on the school computer. I'll be two and three years in for the other degrees I'm taking."
"Hey, if you are preggie, you won't be be hitting as old as how many kids we have in four more years."
This time Susan pushes him out of his seat. In the front room some of the new teachers are blinking at the scene in the back room.
"That's the . . .'damn it, I'm probably pregnant again' complaint." Professor Eppes chuckles.
"Yes, but it was David teasing Josette about not being as old as how many children they have if the girls are pregnant in a few years that got him booted out of his chair." Principal Madison chuckles.
"Especially since this is a multiple time." More looks. "Multiples run in the Covington family, the girls pregnancies usually are one baby per momma and then 'oh shit, *how* many children are we having?'" President Bartlett chuckles. "They have four children who are starting twelfth grade tomorrow and fourteen children starting the ninth grade, with their youngest four children starting third grade."
After dinner Josette joins the twins in the auditorium.
"How is everybody dealing with the loss?"
"It's hard, I won't sugarcoat things." One of the women says. "But you already know what we're going through thanks to losing your own Earth." The others nod. "NASA had always wondered if there had been life on Mars and if so what caused the death of the planet. . ."
"So did ours. They wondered if the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars might not have been the real fourth planet and the explosion that created the belt is what destroyed life on Mars. Just as they wondered if the moon was a wandering planetoid that got captured by Earth's gravity." The astronomy teacher says. "The common theory on Mars was somehow they lost their magnetic field, possibly by a meteor strike and the atmosphere bled out. The planet was still losing atmosphere when we lost Earth"
Nods from the others.
"Not to borrow trouble but. . ."
"We have sensors up in the communication satellites and a protective field will go up around all the inhabited planets, anything would hit against it and spin off or disintegrate."
"Good, I know most of the meteorites that entered Earth's atmosphere burned up on entry but. . ."
"A meteor strike the size of Mount Everest destroyed the dinosaurs." Principal Madison says.
The first few weeks of the new semester passes and soon it's the first testing week.
"Do we need pregnancy tests?"
"Not for me, thank you gods and goddesses." Josette sighs. "But the others. . ." A twinkling heralds the arrival of Lord Apollo.
"Yes, you're pregnant. And it's twins for all three of you." He says, touching their heads.
"Thank you Lord Apollo."
"Hera and Aphrodite are taking care of the nursery."
"Please thank them, Lord Apollo." Susan says. The twins, Josette, and the boys add their own thanks.
"Here we go again." Susan sighs.
"The babies are turning eight years old in a couple of months." Josette says, her lips twitching.
"Ahhhh, bite me." Abby says, rolling her eyes. "Any other news?"
"Daniel's bringing in some of the younger people from the magical bank with the thought of retiring in a couple of years." Nods from the others.
"What about Sue and Agatha?"
"They claim crafting keeps them young and you'll have to carry them out of their stores feet first." Snickers from the others but they nod.
Back at the dorm Josette absorbs her duplicates that had been out and about, sliding into her seat and swatting David lightly upside the head.
"Really?" He purrs.
"Not me but the others. Lord Apollo confirmed their pregnancies at lunch. They're each having twins."
"Which is why the Ladies Hera and Aphrodite were in the nursery earlier." Lois says.
"Yep." Josette says. "So expect the others to beat you half to death when they get home tomorrow." David sniggers.
"How are you feeling about the loss of a second Earth?"
"There are as many earths in the multiverse as there are grains of sand on the beach, there's got to be hundreds of thousands if not millions of Earths where humanity lost the roll of the dice."
"As Dad says, sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug."
"And to go with the grains of sand analogy, sometimes Earth is the sand in your speedo."
The others come back the next day, the girls giving David dirty looks when he grins at them and puts a hand on their stomachs.
"I'm going to be 87 years old damn it." Susan complains as they gather around the computer screen after dinner to contact family and friends. They flip a coin and Josette grumbles as she sends out messages, getting a split screen.
"Josette," Pat sighs. "Not again."
"Not it, just the girls this time." The others look at the screens where Josette and Pat are bickering, grinning at each other the entire time. Clarinda takes pity on Clark and Thomas. "This is the 'you're going to be grandparents again' call."
"Twins for each of us," Abby says, pushing Josette back down into her seat with a hand on the top of her head. "Sit, stay, good school head librarian."
"I'm the only school librarian." Josette snorts.
"Which makes you a shoo-in for the head librarian position."
"Were we the first call?" Clarinda asks as Josette rolls her eyes.
"Yes, though Mom Sanders already knows since we were taking our tests when Lord Apollo confirmed the pregnancies. You know how quickly news spreads there." Pat chuckles. "Mom Covington is our next call."
"What was Dad talking to Doc and Thomas about?" David asks when they've all been treated to a 'girls, really' sigh from Alice Covington that's not as effective as it might have been since Alissa is in her arms.
"You know how we added the buildings from Earth to the school after we lost Earth?" Everybody nods. "They're planning on doing the same thing to Headquarters, the Fortress, and Wayne Manor. CJ's fortress wasn't duplicated, it actually came up." Nods from the others. "I think back then they'd already halfway thought of Haven as home. By a couple years ago they were talking about making their next identities genius recluses so they didn't have to spend any more time on Earth than they had to."
"Haven feels like Heaven after Earth's problems."
Nods from the others before they head to their rooms to get ready for bed.
"Josette, this is probably a dumb question but preserved lemons?" Principal Madison asks at breakfast, waving her up to the front table.
"Cut into quarters lengthwise but not all the way through, salt is put in them and then they're covered with brine. It takes about a week in a cool place for them to pickle and they should be used by a month, not that they usually lasted that long. We make a few batches through out the year."
"Basically the same thing but the lemons are a different variety, much smaller with a thinner skin. Pop them in whole with salt and let it sit. We don't grow those lemons though we have the small trees in stasis on the ships."
"How long would it be before they were producing?"
"About five years. They're an acquired taste, they're both generally used in cooking. Though. . ." Josette says slowly. "I think Vincent probably uses them in some of his cooking. If not I think they're in the food replicator."
"Thank you Josette, there's so much fruit and vegetables that we don't produce."
"Yes but we're introducing them back to our world." Principal Madison nods. "Thank you, and if you can bring out a tree for the salted lemons. Would it fit in one of the growing areas?"
A couple days later Josette brings out a tree, planting it in a corner of the growing building in town and putting up a sign. A couple days after that Josette starts traveling offworld with various groups of people for
After the second testing week the crops start coming in for the dorm's growing area and they're busy picking and canning, drying, or eating fresh. They're also busy spreading manure on the fields and garden once the snow melts, the boys also cleaning up the doggie doody area. Windows are opened and people begin to stay outside longer as their winter clothes start getting washed and put away until the fall.
Pat and Bethany come out to help with the babies since Mom and Mom have babies turning two or just turned three that year along with Dr. Blake and Abby swears one morning after breakfast. Anna cusses a second behind her.
"Yes, not the first." Susan yells. Then "Dammit."
"Ha, spoke too soon." Josette sniggers as she helps Susan up to the medical unit while Alexander programs the robots to clean the three spots where the girls water had broken. By the next morning two more sons and four daughters have been delivered by the girls.
A couple weeks later Josette heads off with Alan, Michael, and Alexander to Eureka for their finals as the female proctor comes out for the girls finals.
"How is everything going?"
"Good. We've got all the crops and gardens planted. Most of the offworld harvests are in, everybody was more than happy to be out in warm fresh air in the middle of winter." Dr. Cross nods. "Everybody's . . .adjusting to the loss of the other Earth, even though there's probably millions of dimensions where Earth has been lost thanks to either natural disaster, greed, stupidity, or hatred."
"It still hurts when it happens to you." Vincent says. Josette nods.
"I understand there's some teasing going on?"
Josette rolls her eyes. "Abby's holding it over Anna's head that she's delivered before her the last two times and that she's got one more child, telling her she's laying down on the job."
"Isn't that how they became pregnant?" Dr. McNider says, chuckling.
"That's what I said, I was soundly booed." Josette sniggers. "Mom had come over for a few hours, she was giving them 'girls, don't start this shit' looks."
"How many students are graduating this year?"
"About five hundred from the first batch of kids that came up plus ours." Josette says. "The school representatives are talking to them again this summer between the planting and the harvesting." Nods from the others.
The next day on Haven Josette heads to Town after breakfast, stopping at the bakery and getting a bag of doughnuts she puts in subspace before heading to the working area, nodding as she sees a crew from Sanders constructions working on the new addition that's going both out and up. In addition to the work tables and sewing machine stations, Alexander, Michael, and Hank are working on a couple more quilting frames.
Back at the dorm Josette brings the bag out, eating a doughnut as she looks over the plans for the next semester's knitting and quilting classes. A duplicate is busy filling containers in the textiles building's storeroom for the next semester while a half-dozen are busy taking inventory of what they'd salvaged from Earth.
"First world grapes?" David asks.
"I'm working on the labels for the wine, I'm picking up a shipment of bottles in a few weeks and I should be harvesting and bottling sometime this fall. Probably around the same time as the other crops." David nods, the smirks. "How's it feel to be a wino. . .Hey!" he rubs his head where Abby had just swatted him.
"I was closer." she says smugly. "Are you ready for next semester?"
"Yeah, I've been bringing in the kits for the quilting and classes, the storeroom will be full by the end of the week end nearly empty by the first week of next semester if it's anything like last year." The others nod.
"Josette, that music you passed along was . . .haunting. It got me right here." Buckaroo puts his hand on his chest when he comes to talk to her a few days later after he's peeked in at the new babies. "I haven't been able to get through all the files yet, they're so powerful."
"I know, it's nothing that can ever be duplicated. I spent hours playing the violin late at night after we found Earth in the other dimension had died."
"Yes, I could feel the heartbreaking loss."
"There's a reason why they use music therapy when a traumatic event has happened. Just like I spent hours drawing when Sarah died." Buckaroo nods. "How are the kids handling it?"
"There's a difference between 'there's the door, don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out' and 'oh my god, everybody left on Earth just died'." Buckaroo nods. "Time heals all wounds is a cliche, it helps smooth down the edges."
"Has anybody else heard this?"
"Just Clark, Thomas, and CJ since they were there. It's too . . .raw is a good a word as any I guess."
"I understand completely. Thank you for allowing me to hear it."
"You wouldn't automatically think I was insane."
"Grief is a powerful emotion. So is rage."
"Oh I know, I went through a lot of that when Sarah was killed."
"We all did." David says, tapping on the door and coming in and being wrapped in an one-armed hug by Buckaroo. "Sarah's probably complaining about us giving her more brothers and sisters in Heaven."
"And telling the angels if they don't like her cussing to kick her out."
Anna giggles as she comes into the room. "The archangels are snorting and telling her no because like your t-shirt, they know she'll take over Hell." Buckaroo looks at them and Josette pulls a t-shirt from her first floor dresser that says 'Heaven doesn't want me and Hell thinks I'll take over' with thinks crossed out and knows written above it. Buckaroo chuckles despite himself. "Have your grandparents seen that?"
"Who do you think got it for her?" David snorts.
A couple days later Josette and David slide into their seats at the board room.
"Are they going to have jobs when they finish university without Earth's contracts now?"
"Yes, they might be only working part-time but they will have jobs here on Haven and the other planets as people start retiring. We've got the funds for them, they won't be finishing their degrees with no jobs when they're finished." Nods from the others.
"The next complex is going up year after next."
"I finished a degree last semester, I'm working on the first class for the second right now and plan on getting it in over the summer, and I'll have the third finished this fall on the school computer."
"I'll be three years in for the herbal medicine degree this fall, same with the loss of the sun degree. I'm three years in for a degree from Montague, I'll finish those next year."
"How many classes are you planning on taking?"
"33. The offworld harvests are in but we'll have the crops coming in. I'll have the new grapes to harvest sometime this year too." Nods from the others.
"The expanded work area for Sue and Agatha?"
"Should be finished by fall." David says.
"This isn't like when we lost Earth."
"No, we have less people needing jobs as they graduate, there's a range of ages, and we have industries all ready for them."
"They won't have to live in temporary housing, we'd already planned on permanent housing for them."
"We've learned from our mistakes. I wish we didn't have to use the lessons we learned though."
"We all do." Principal Madison sighs. "Now I heard a rumor that we're opening a baby store in a couple years?"
"We'd been talking about it for a while, same with expanding the store." Nods from the others.
A few days later Josette heads off to the first planet to look at the crops with Doc and Clark, both of them nodding as they look around.
"What was Nathan talking to you, David, and James about?"
"A testing lab on the eleventh planet, meteorology. The further away we get from the suns, the colder the planets become." Nods from the other two as they head back to Brigadoon. "Arctic weather conditions, food growing areas. . ."
"Arctic clothes, buildings, and heat." Josette agrees with a nod. "All things that might eventually be needed if the ice age doesn't end on Earth."
"Exactly. This way they can do the testing they want and thanks to the switching station be back on Archimedes. We had McMurdo base on Earth and they had times when planes couldn't fly in."
"Did Nathan say anything about. . .him?"
"Yeah, the little shit finally figured out that nobody believed his crocodile tears and 'oh god, I wish I was dead', he refused to take his classes so they cut off all contact with him for a few months. He sulked for a few weeks and got mighty fucking hungry before realizing nobody was going to blow smoke up his ass and he looked at the instructions for the hydroponics growing area. He's growing his own food to supplement the replicator rations. Maybe one day he can grow up and take responsibility for his own actions."
"Hopefully, and become a productive part of society again. His mother?"
"Spoiled little bitch who spent six days locked in her room for causing problems. She won't ever change. When she got out instead of being grateful stupid woman complained to the council that they were being mean to her. Got her ass handed to her for that stunt. She got another six weeks locked in her cell for her whining. She couldn't believe they were making her work."
"Useless woman, the apple didn't fall far from the tree in her son's case."
"Yes, they both have whopping big cases of 'me, me, me, don't you know it's all about ME." Josette snorts as she settles in the 'control' chair and they lift off, detouring to first the second planet and then the eleventh planet to drop probes in the atmosphere to map the planets before heading back to Haven.
"How are the crops coming along?" Thomas asks when Clark comes back to Headquarters.
"Good, Josette should be harvesting in a couple of months. Did you talk to James?"
"Yes, we're adding onto Headquarters, the manor, and your fortress over the next couple of years. They've had experience, first with the kids dorm, then adding to the school after the loss. . ." Clark nods and picks up Adam when he runs up.
"Outside feeding the livestock with CJ. She finished her morning session of classes with a test and wanted some fresh air before she started the next group."
"The boys will be starting classes in a couple years."
Josette yawns as she presses the buttons for the wall-mounted coffee maker they'd installed as a test in the government building.
"Yes, we're expecting another four days of rain." Principal Madison says as Doc looks out the window. "It should be starting by dinner."
"Is there any complaints about the Amish kids attending our high school?"
"No, the elders of the community realize that things have to change. They've got a garden and crop area set aside for 'English' growing concepts. Since they're showing a fifteen percent increase in the yield. . ." Nods from the others. "There's a second group of children born to the Amish who are going to be starting classes in a couple of years and a third group in the gestation chambers." Nods from the others. "All of the Amish 'kids' are going on to university, either Balaclava or Assyrian. Another change from tradition but one that's accepted by family and friends."
After the meeting Josette heads back to the dorm, checking her foul weather gear as the boys come back from taking care of the livestock and checking the gardens and crops.
The new semester starts the next day, Josette ignoring the rain beating at the windows as she splits off duplicates before breakfast to start getting in classes and bringing in supplies from the ships. In the agricultural building in town after breakfast she joins Professor Druid looking over the seeds they've been saving.
"You've got more seeds on the ships?"
"Yes, commercial and home-grown. I'm slowly bringing out more varieties, making sure they don't cross-germinate." Professor Druid nods in satisfaction as they separate. Josette checks on the factories then walks back to the dorm, hanging up her foul weather gear to drain before peeking in the nursery to find Susan rocking a fussing Lawrence.
"Yes, he's just is being stubborn like his daddies and doesn't want me to put him down." Josette kisses the baby on the head and he sighs, falling asleep. "You just wanted your other mommy." Susan puts him down and stretches before they shut the nursery doors and head opposite ways, she heading upstairs to the gym to work on losing the last of the baby weight and get back in shape with the twins while Josette heads upstairs to her workroom to work on a patchwork quilt.
"I've noticed some of the Amish women working at Sue and Agatha's stores?" Abby asks when she comes downstairs and helps get the babies in their strollers for lunch.
"Not working, Amish women don't work outside the homes once they're married but they've been talking with Sue, Agatha, and some of the others about the quilts they make, blocks and patterns. They've been talking to some of the teachers at Assyrian and Edinborough too."
Nods from the others as they cover the strollers and walk to the dining hall.
"Are the knitting and quilting classes still packed?"
"Yes, I filled the supply closet in the textiles building last week and I expect it to be empty except for the knitting kits by the end of this week."
After lunch Josette, Thomas, Doc, and Clark go over the list of spices and foods that they brought back from the other Earth, making notes on how to introduce it to the planets.
"Vincent, you interested in any of these?" Josette sends his PADD the list of spices they have a couple days later when she heads to Eureka to pick up books for the classes she and David had taken on teacher the previous semester.
"Oh gods yes, where did. . .the other dimension."
"Yes, I'm slowly going through the servers and books for recipes."
"I've got tons of recipes, I'll pass them along to you. I've been wanting to grow plants for some of these spices but. . ."
"Not enough room and more important things have to be handled first."
"Exactly, I can come out in a few days to talk with your cooks." After checking in on Franklin and Madelyn Josette heads back to Haven, dropping off David's books and dl'ing hers into her mental library, putting them in containers in her closet to put in the library when she's finished the degrees before walking to the dining hall with the others for dinner.
"Did you talk to Vincent?"
"Yes, and he was excited about all the spices, he'll be coming out in a few days to talk to the other cooks." Principal Madison nods. "He's been wanting to grow crops for some of these but . . ."
"other things had to come first."
"He says he's got tons of recipes he'll pass along to me. I'm still going through books and server files." Principal Madison nods again.
The gardens and crops start coming in and when they're finishing the yearly harvests start coming in, Josette's busy for a couple of weeks with the wine and olive oil. Vincent had come out, moaning at all the new spices that Josette brings out and takes small bags back to Eureka to start working on recipes as the younger men and women that he'd brought in to take over shifts at the cafe over the years handle everything. He's not the only one experimenting, various cooks on Haven are doing the same. The new wine grapes are harvested and Josette bottles the wine, taking a couple cases to the cafe for Vincent.
"Thank you Josette, try this." He pops a bite of food in her mouth and she moans at the different tastes. "Oh god, that's almost as good as sex. . .but don't tell the others that." He sniggers as he opens the boxes to shelve on the racks and inspects the new wine, opening a bottle.
"How is the rice wine coming along?"
"Good, I plan on bottling part of the harvest next year, the rest will be left to age into vinegar." Vincent nods in satisfaction, putting a plate in front of Josette as she slides onto a stool at the counter.
Josette slides into her seat at the planetary leader meeting after coming back from Eureka.
"Is all the yearly crops in now?"
"Yes, there's been a good bit of interest from the communal kitchens for the new wine. I just got back from delivering Vincent's orders. Dr. Stark caught me while I was there, he wants me to take the first shipment of supplies out to the eleventh planet for a testing lab. Clark, CJ, and I have the job of putting everything together when everything's there, we should be finishing by the end of the last semester." The others nod.
"The cooks are experimenting with the spices, and they're all in the replicator's databases. We hope to be able to grow them in a few years." Nods from the others. "We're working on a new batch at the toothpaste factory, I'm experimenting on a new candy."
"The candy factory?"
"Supplies are still good and we're looking at putting up a survey next year." The others nod.
"We have literally tons in storage on the ships." The others nod. "One of the reasons why I didn't plant cotton offworld." Nods again.
"Not to be vulgar, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, condoms, pads?" President Bartlett asks.
"Again, tons in storage. I took what was in the warehouses and stores when I harvested. Earth was at the height of population so they were churning stuff out."
"Bringing it out later this year, there will be notices on the servers that we need to do work on it to connect it to a sewage treatment unit and hook it to the alternative power sources since it already has solar panels. It should be open for business by the next Harvest Festival with older people taking over the manager duties and at least one younger person working there every shift. The hours will be the same as the factories." Nod from the others, that way everybody is home by ten night hours.
"We've planned on having a mall eventually."
The others nod.
"Josette, offworld cacao?"
"I've got a new batch growing on the ships, it will be a couple more years before they're big enough to transplant though. And a few years after that before they can be harvested. But I have tons in stasis that we harvested from the other dimension." Josette says a silent prayer for those lost before tearing herself away from the morbid thoughts."
After the meeting Josette absorbs the duplicates that had been at the school or dorm all day before joining the others walking to dinner."
"Is everything in now except for the second crops?" Abby asks.
Josette nods, yawning. "Yes, everything that wasn't picked at the u-pick apple and berry farms have been split, part going in stasis to be sold at the Harvest Festival while the rest is dried or made into other stuff."
"Josette, has anybody thought of another building like the flea market back in Killingmesoftly?" Alexander asks.
"You mean, setting up a permanent stall?" He nods. "No need right now, we don't have enough people that we can't just go to the stores. Or send in an order and have it delivered." Nods from the others. "We make sure we've got good weather for the Harvest Festival, if we have to we can put the tables in the big building."
"Are we working on the store?"
"Yeah, Dad's bringing out a crew to start expanding the buildings while they're finishing the work area. Next spring he's putting up a new building for the baby store."
"New and used clothing?"
"Yes, plus other supplies."
"Will they need new shelves?"
"Yes, Dad's going to be talking to you in a few weeks."
A couple nights later is the party, Josette saying a silent prayer for those lost before blowing out the candles.
The second crops start coming in and Josette's busy at the school, the dorm, and the ranch bringing in the crops with the boys. Everything's in and the last crops planted before the Harvest Festival, Josette nodding in satisfaction at people from various planets moving among tables.
"Did the seniors talk to the school representatives?" Josette asks. She'd been off delivering the first batch of supplies to the eleventh planet.
"Yes, they're all set to start their classes next year." Principal Madison says.
Shouts of excitement as everybody turns to where the mall would be and seeing it shimmer into view. Everybody knows it will be another year before it's open but still. . .
"Are we going to be opening a storefront for the cheese?"
"Yes, we're going to be offering some of the dairy's cheeses too. We're also looking into the giving the chocolatier a storefront, we hadn't planned on it but . . ."
"Things change." Josette sighs.
Josette says a silent prayer for the dead before standing up, putting her debris in the containers to be composted or disposed of and starts wandering the tables again.
"How many classes are you taking?" David asks when they gather to talk about the classes they plan on signing up for?"
"Only 27, I'm finishing three degrees this year and I'll be finishing three more next. I've got to pick up the winter crops and build the lab for GD on the eleventh planet."
"I'm getting in semesters for two of degrees I've been picking up semesters here and there from Montague." The others nod.
The weeks pass, Josette taking more deliveries to the eleventh planet, CJ and Clark coming out the last trip to start putting up the lab complex. They have it furnished and the switching station set up by Josette's finals and Dr. Stark walks through, looking around and nodding in satisfaction.
"Thank you Clark, CJ, Josette. We'll be able to run the experiments that we wanted and we'll see how people can handle life on a winter planet."
Back on Haven Josette absorbs her duplicates that had been out and about. She nods in satisfaction at all the crops and the garden in for the fall and her finals finished.
"Josette, don't you have a teacher from the other dimension?" David asks at dinner.
"Yeah, he's connected to the server at Headquarters Doc brought out. GD is working on integrating all the degrees from the other dimension. They hope to have it finished sometime next year."
"Just like the updates after we lost Earth." Josette nods. "We were expecting a rather large update when we went back. GD found that among the stuff we brought back and sent it to Doc's server, I updated him a couple months ago but they've been busy integrating other schools. We figure it will take a few years." Nods from the others. They're still integrating the classes from their own dimension even at 30 years.
Josette heads upstairs after dinner, going to her music room and sitting in a chair with a cello in front of her, going over the sheet music on the stand in front of her.
"You're playing more instruments?" David asks, leaning in the doorway.
"Yes, I'm expanding my musical range with different types of music and instruments."
"Yeah, he wants to see what I can do. Most people only play one instrument, I'm one of those gifted people that can pick up any of them." David nods and heads back to his room.
Thanksgiving comes and goes, everybody quiet as the anniversary of learning the other Earth had been lost coming and going as Josette, Clark, Thomas, Doc, and Dr. Stark head off to check on the planet.
Josette's quiet when they come back but smiles and hugs Thomas, Elijah, Mary, and Maura with the others when they graduate, standing up with the others and clapping for all the graduates. The next day Josette joins the others in Agatha's store for the meeting over next year's kits. On the way back Josette picks up the recycling and heads offplanet, picking up recycling and delivering it to various places. Josette delivers another batch of supplies to the eleventh planet and stops back to Eureka, picking up hers and David's books before heading back to the dorm.
"David, our books."
"Thank you Josette, how was the testing lab on the eleventh planet looking?"
"Lonely, but I'm sure the same thing can be said for the outlying ranches here on Haven." The others laugh and nod. "It was quiet, nobody was there so I just delivered and stopped in to Eureka on the way home to pick up our books and talk to Vincent and Dr. stark."
Josette takes the books for her finished degrees upstairs, shelving them and looking at the vastly expanded library.
"Josette." CJ says, ducking his head into the room. "Ahh, there you are. The update for Teacher is ready. This is the one we were expecting last year."
"Ahhh, I'll plug him in and set him dl'ing it then. Thank you." They walk downstairs and Josette brings out the computer, the update starting to dl automatically.
"How is the rest of it going?"
"According to GD, slow. Unlike you guys where it was already in one place we're having to integrate classes separately where they had them." Josette nods. "We're still integrating classes here, and it's been 30 years since we lost Earth."
"Then I won't feel bad about how long it's taking."
"Are you integrating the textbooks?"
"Yeah, like you we're having the libraries attached to a replicator so when we start a class we have the books right away."
"Do we have all the cover crops in now?"
"Yes, according to all the estimates the offworld harvests should start coming in the third semester next year with about ten years before the harvests are so wonky again."
Josette settles down in her workroom, working on one of the quilts for a couple days before they walk the streets for the lights festival, going to Albatross for one day.
"This is a magical time of year." CJ says quietly.
"One year is ending and another is beginning, the loss isn't as raw as it was last year. You never forget but the day doesn't hurt as bad as it used to." Thomas nods as he comes up to them with paper cups of hot cider. Josette drinks hers slowly as Doc passes around hot chestnuts that had been roasting on the pan used for paella during the Harvest Festivals.
The new year starts and Josette splits off duplicates to settle in front of various computers the first day, heading to her textiles building workroom to start working on her art again. Harvey and the others had insisted that she go on as a part of the healing after losing a second Earth.
The weeks pass as Josette is busy transplanting crops from the greenhouse to the growing area in the dorm. The first testing week everybody but David heads to Eureka for their tests.
"How are the kids handling the loss of the other Earth?"
"It's getting better, they're finding it ironic that the kids nobody wanted were the ones to survive."
"As am I, are we having any more students graduating?"
"Not until next year. The students don't mind, this is giving them time to get in more classes than they'd have been able to back on Earth. Lessons they'll be using in their new lives."
"Do you still have the supplies that you would have needed for clothing and other sewing?"
"We're bringing out the factories. Most of them will only be open long enough to make a batch of what we need but they don't have to be running all the time anymore. We've got tons of flour, sugar, and other supplies yet for the bread factory. That's the one that we need the most." Nods from the others.
"How is David coming along on his degrees?"
"I think he's a semester in for each of his Masters and a year and a half for his bachelors? Last year we were busy with the babies and the loss of the other Earth was still raw so nobody was cramming in classes. Not even me even with finishing a degree a semester."
"What was David teasing you about?" Alexander asks when they join them at the tables when the buzzer sounds to end the morning session.
"After Tinya and the others were born, David was saying I didn't have to worry about having as many kids as I was old anymore at a planetary leader meeting. I said that by the time I turned 86 the kids would be in high school, we'd probably have a couple more batches of kids by then. . ." the others sigh and nod. "And that we'd probably have a hundred kids by now."
"Not quite that many." Susan says. "But close. Is Mary attending high school here or taking the classes online like she has been?"
"Taking them online I think. She's turning eleven this year and taking high school classes in some areas."
"With Doc and Thomas for parents I'm not surprised, CJ's brilliant, so's Bruce. So are you. . .some of the time." Josette sniggers. "She's coming out to take some classes with us, including the textiles ones."
Josette heads back to the dorm after lunch, absorbing her duplicates and joining the others at the dining hall.
"How far are you in your classes?"
"I'll be three years into my bachelors and nine classes in for each into my Masters. I'm starting my theses. Grandpa Nathan asking?"
"Yeah, even though they can easily check the records to see how far we are in classes." He nods and Josette eats and helps feed the babies. After dinner Mom and Mom help get the kids bathed and in bed.
"Be home tomorrow, they should have been finished during the afternoon testing session and staying in the house for some sleep before they come back."
"I got tons in storage on the ships, we won't be running out for centuries." Nods from David and both Moms. "Earth always had to have more than was needed." Nods from the others.
"Movies and tv shows that were current there and film for the theater."
Mom Covington shudders a minute. "You don't tend to think how dangerous outer space is."
Josette nods. "You think you're safe on your own world but your world can die in an instant when something happens. It was just a case of wrong place, wrong time. Just like being wiped out in your own home when a train jumps the tracks and plows into your neighborhood." They hug the two older women before everybody heads different directions. Mary goes upstairs to Josette's workroom with her, looking over the kits.
"I know you're not interested in those." Josette snorts, looking over from cutting out the blocks for another patchwork quilt.
"No, like Alice I don't have the patience to sit down and do these types of things." Mary chuckles. "But I can enjoy the pictures and marvel at how much work you put into them."
The semester flies by and Josette starts harvesting the crops in the dorm's growing area as work continues on the mall, Clark's fortress and headquarters, and Thomas's Wayne Manor. Josette takes a tour of the mall her third testing week, nodding at all the work that's being done.
"Are we still on schedule to be open by the Harvest Festival?"
"Yes, right now we're putting replicators in the food court just like we did for the restaurants at the theater."
"Stores for the cheese and the baby stuff?"
"Going up in a few months. I've been talking with Benton and somebody from the dairy about what they'll need. The baby store is straight forward, good storage in the back and shelves in the front."
"What about the registers?"
"We've got to reprogram to work with our program, GD's already working on that."
"Josette, this is probably a very dumb question, but why do you only grow one variety of squashes in the gardens and crops instead of two at the same time?" Alan asks as they're working on the garden plans.
"Short answer is there's five or so different classifications in the squash family, each classification has a number of varieties in it. Insects pollinate the crops and if they grow more than one variety the same time they can cross pollinate the next time because the insects don't know better. The resulting varieties often aren't feasible. So we grow one at a time to make sure nothing happens."
"So by just growing one at a time we're keeping them pure? For the taste and the seeds?"
"Yes, and most home gardeners aren't familiar with all the different varieties of squashes." Nods from the others. "This way we have the seeds and we can introduce new varieties under a trial basis."
The crops are in by the finals, Josette coming back from her tests and sliding into a seat in the dining hall.
"So how close are you to finishing a degree?" David asks
"I'm a semester away from two of them now, I'll get one in over the break and the other this summer. The third is on school computer so I'll finish that this fall." The others nod.
"Ph.D?" Mom Covington asks.
"I'll be halfway through it this year, year after next summer I'll upload the dissertation to the server at GD."
"Finishing her Masters this year, she's uploading her thesis to the server this summer." Principal Madison says from the front room. Josette nods on the screen. The others look at him. "Alice was asking how far Josette was from her botany doctorate, she'll be uploading the dissertation to the server year after next. David then asked how far Katrina was in her degree."
"Josette, government meeting tomorrow morning now that you're finished with your finals." He says. In the back room Josette nods.
"Josette, how are you on the recyclables from the other dimension?" President Bartlett asks the next morning.
"Good, we've been working on moving it to the raw materials. A lot of high density and low density plastics is going into composite decking." The others nod. "Same with plywood scraps and stuff like that from Hank's workshop."
"Low density plastics?"
"Milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles."
More nods. "There was just some stuff that I couldn't recycle, those were disintegrated and went into power crystals."
"Josette, thank you for taking along a PKE meter with you when you went to the other world, the levels were what I had been expecting with the loss of Earth." Egon says, tapping on the door and coming in at Doc's quiet words.
"Nearly eight billion people died over the course of three weeks, I wouldn't have expected otherwise. The Gods and Goddesses are going to be working millenia to sort all the souls lost. Our world we had so many deaths before the end but it was still nearly a billion people in one day. With my gifts I helped out the gods and goddesses by sorting them. Most went quietly to their afterlives but there was still a few thousand whiners who didn't like what I told them that I booted to a 'holding area' until their death gods sorted them out, telling them the same thing I did."
"People were stupid in life, why should death be any different?" President Bartlett sighs. Principal Madison chuckles and nods.
"Death is the great equalizer."
"Indeed." Egon says, heading off to meet the others who'd come in for some shopping.
Everybody nods. "How is Clark coming with adding the buildings from Earth?"
"Good, Dad's got a crew working with him, a crew working on putting up the new stores for the cheese and baby stuff, and a crew working on the mall."
"The apartment complex?"
"Coming up in the spring next year, we'll be finished with everything and they'll be able to put multiple crews on it." Everybody nods.
"Tons in stasis on the ships, you know Earth. If one was good, five had to be better." Josette snorts. The others sigh and nod. "The new batch will be finished in a couple of months and ready for purchase."
"Tons of it in cans and anything that would have gone bad is in stasis, including eggs, meat, and milk."
"Literally tons of it on the ships."
"Offworld for the Charmin brand tp, with what we have in storage we should have enough for a batch." Nods from the others. "Are you growing?"
"Not this year, the field's being used for corn, squash, and beans two of the growing cycles and potatoes in between. I'll check the cotton stores after we harvest offworld. If there's not enough left over we'll wait another year." Nods after checking the stores of toilet paper. "Yes, we've got enough for another couple of years. I'm sure the other planets have a stockpile of it too. If we run low I'll bring out some of it from the other dimension." Nods of satisfaction.
"Tons of it on the ships. One of the reasons I let the cotton field lay fallow last year."
"Now you're finishing degrees?"
"Yeah, I plan on finishing my degree on Pulp fiction villains from Montague over the break, I'm finishing the loss of the sun degree from the history school this summer, and the herbal medicine degree this fall."
"The botany and herbal medicine degrees will work nicely together."
Josette sniggers suddenly. "Ahhh, more idiots?"
"Yeah, 'why are you using plants for medicine? why don't you just go to the drugstore?'"
"And where did they think the drugs originally came from? Most of our medicines were originally plant based first before being mass-produced." Doc sighs.
"Ohhh, I didn't know that." Josette says in a 'clueless airhead' impression.
"People really need a ten second delay between their brains and their mouths before their mouth writes a check their ass can't handle." David says. Josette cackles and nods.
"Not that I can think of. The crops and gardens are in, the students who graduated last year are all in university classes." Josette and David nod. After the meeting Josette heads to the stores, checking with Agatha, Sue, and the others about how they're getting along on supplies. Walking back to the school she stops at the bakery for some doughnuts.
"Josette, how many classes are you going for this summer?" Principal Madison asks at lunch.
"33, with finishing another degree. I'm starting two more this year, one over the break when I finish the first degree. This fall is going to be all hands on deck when the offworld harvests start coming in. I might get in the last four classes for the other degree over the second break so I'm taking less classes." Principal Madison nods. "Are we going to have one on the ships while we're working on another?"
"Shouldn't, we'll have the entire fall to harvest the offworld stuff." Nods of satisfaction from the others. Josette slides into her seat after filling the tray. The others look at her. "Wanted to know how many classes I'm taking this summer and if we would have one harvest on the ships while we were working on another."
"Shouldn't." David says.
"That's what I said, we'd have the whole fall to get them in and canned, dried, or otherwise preserved and delivered. I might finish that third degree over the 2nd semester break so I'm taking less classes this fall." David nods. After lunch Josette heads back into town to help out at the stores since the Amish are making one of their trips in. The women are busy looking at the patterns and kits and Josette is busy cutting fabric for quilts and clothes.
"Josette, Suzie says they're going to have the degrees on buttonmaking starting next year." Agatha says when everybody's settled in with sandwiches, coffee, and doughnuts. "Two degrees, like they have been, one all books and one handwork."
"Thankee, I'll sign up for it then."
David looks at her when she slides into her seat and starts inhaling her food at dinner. "Amish trip, I was busy cutting fabric and otherwise helping out." He nods. He'd seen the stores after the Amish trips. "That's the trouble with only coming in once or twice a year." Josette nods. "They're planning on more trips, we've got an account set up for them at all the stores now, including the u-pick farms. Now they can just come out and the stores will charge it to the account with their name. We're doing it for the mall and the new stores too." The others nod in satisfaction."
"Are the Amish women still coming out to talk with the others?"
"Oh yes, I've attended many of the talks. It's fascinating the work that they do. Everything on Earth was new, improved, glitzy, glamorous. . ." The others nod. Ma, who'd come into town to do some shopping nods, rolling her eyes. "New does not always mean better."
After dinner Josette heads back to her workroom after delivering Ma's purchases to the farm, getting a hug of thanks from her.
"Get your degree finished?" David asks the day before the summer semester is due to start.
"Yeah, and I started a degree on the Titanic from Oxford." Josette says as they walk to the dining hall for dinner.
The yearly crops start coming in after the first round of crops are in and the second ones planted, Josette bottling olive oil, wines, and vinegar, including the first batch of balsamic vinegar. She hands out bottles, Vincent moaning at the taste and ordering more.
"So it's good?"
"Oh yes, excellent. Especially for a trial batch. And so's the rice wine."
"That was an experiment, I only bottled half of it, the rest will turn to vinegar." He nods. "When we run low, which I don't think will be a while, we can start another batch." Vincent nods. "It's not something that most home cooks would be using on a regular basis."
"If at all. Most people don't experiment the way you do. The communal kitchen generally doesn't have the time to experiment, especially during harvests or the festival. They're busy making good, filling food that will keep everybody moving. They can during the winter." Vincent nods. "Same with the kitchens at the school. Now during the shutdowns they had the time to experiment since it was just the staff and our kids at the school." Vincent nods again.
Back on Haven Josette stretches and yawns after absorbing the duplicates that had been out and about. "Did you finish the degree you wanted?" David asks at dinner.
"Yeah, and I'll get in the last four classes for my other degree over the break since next semester will be asshole to elbow." David sniggers.
"Did you check the cotton?"
"Yeah, we'll grow another batch offworld next year and here so we have a good surplus after taking it in for the Charmin brand tp."
They sign up for classes the next week, Josette bringing the books back the next week before the first of the food offworld harvests. Once that's finished their crops start coming in, followed by the party, the mall opening, the Harvest festival, and another offworld harvest. Josette slides into her seat at the dining hall the night before the fall semester is due to start.
"Get your class finished?"
"Yeah, and I started another degree."
"How many classes are you taking next semester?"
"I'm planning on 29, in addition to the offworld harvests GD wants me to take another shipment of supplies to the lab on the eleventh planet, they're planning an extended test. If things quiet down before the end of the semester, I might pick up another semester to be three years in for a degree from Montague."
"What about the others?"
"I'm starting a class on the China conflict from the history school next year, I'm three classes into the third year for the military and sosh school degrees on Pearl Harbor."
"I'll be finishing the two I'm working on now next year."
"Josette, did anything ever come of the buttonmaking degree they were talking about when you were pregnant with the girls?" Mom Covington, who'd come in to do some shopping, asks.
"Yes, the degree is available starting next year, so I'm signing up for it then." The others chuckle. Josette looks at David. "After the first of the year, we've gotta talk about bringing up a factory to make zippers, velcro, and elastic."
"Those too. . .eventually. We've got tons in storage but. . ."
"Being able to get in supplies from the other dimension spoiled us for a while, now we've got to think of the future again." The others nod. David starts tapping on his PADD, nodding. "It's on the schedule." He puts it back on his belt. "At least with the tutorials from the other dimension, we know how to run most of the machinery." Josette nods.
"How many offworld harvests do we have in?"
"Three, it's quiet until our first testing week. Then a couple offworld harvests between the first and second testing week."
"How's the mall?"
"Hopping, the stores aren't all open yet. But the food court has a good business. The other stores will open as people take them over." Nods from the others. "Once the new wears off, it should get back to normal."
"How are you guys on your classes?"
"We'll be a year in for our degrees." Alexander says. Michael and Alan nod. "We're eight classes in our Ph.D."
"A year into my Masters." she sighs. "David's what, a semester away from finishing his bachelors?"
"I will be with these three classes. I'll be a year into my masters next year."
"Any idea when they're doing graduation again?"
"Probably not for a while."
"How many degrees do you have finished?"
"Only 11 bachelors, a masters, and a Ph.D."
"Only 11 bachelors finished, she says." David rolls his eyes. "You said an extended test for the arctic lab?"
"Yeah, I'm dropping enough supplies off for two years, they're not going to be allowed to come back to Eureka except for a medical emergency."
"Like the biosphere."
"Exactly. On an arctic planet, you're not going to be able to throw your hands up and say 'I quit'."
"Same thing with colonies that are enclosed, you can't just pick up your marbles and go home." David says. Josette nods. "Here, if something comes up we can take a step back and go somewhere else for a few if we want to."
"You're going to be getting on each other's nerves in an enclosed space like a submarine, a research lab, or a biosphere." David nods. "You're going to have to have people who can work together an extended period of time."
"Yes, we've got an entire planet to roam when we get on each other's nerves, they won't."
Nods from the others.
The next day the semester starts and Josette splits off duplicates to take classes, teach at the school, work on kits, and another dozen other things. The weeks pass quickly and Josette and the others but David head to Eureka for their first testing week. After her tests she talks to Dr. Stark about the supplies she'd be delivering to the lab before the others join them when the buzzer to end the morning sessions ends. When Josette's finished with the offworld harvests she starts bringing supplies to the lab, finishing by the time the second testing week rolls around.
"Thank you Josette." Dr. Stark says. "This is a big step in the lab. We had the biosphere, but for the most part our labs weren't self-contained, the scientists could go home at the end of the day ... if they remembered to." Josette sniggers.
The next set of offworld harvests start coming in and Josette's frequently offplanet, picking up recycling or delivering the prepared food to the other planets. The night before the finals she slumps into a seat.
"Get everything in?"
"No, we have one more harvest yet to go." Josette yawns. "This one is Archimedes, the last harvest is ours."
"Get your 29 classes in?"
"Yeah. I knew I was going to be busy this semester, that's why I finished my third degree over the break."
"Pass it along to the others?"
"Yes, Doc, Doc, and Dr. Kane thanked me for the books and class lectures. They're going to be talking in a couple months about what they've been working on." Josette closes her eyes and falls asleep in her desk chair. David chuckles quietly and heads out, shutting the door so she can rest.
The next morning Josette sighs as she finishes her finals, holding up her hand and handing over the PADD to the proctor.
"Now you can relax until the next semester." Dr. McNider says. Josette snorts. "This is nothing compared to all the offworld harvests coming in. We're working on your last harvest right now, our last harvest will be coming in after Thanksgiving.
"We checked the supply and we're growing again next year before we send part of it to the toilet paper factory." Dr. Stark nods in satisfaction.
"Are your crops in yet?"
"They will be by the end of the week, I've got a dozen of my other selves off helping harvest with David since the rest of us are here." Dr. Cross nods. "After Thanksgiving is the last offworld harvest, once that's all prepared they'll start handing out the food and decorating for the lights festival, this year we'll have the mall and the new stores."
"Next year, we're looking at another 400? Principal Madison has the exact number."
"Not as bad as when the students were graduating after we lost Earth." Dr. Stark says. Josette nods. "They're staying in the dorms while they're taking their university classes and I know GD, Wayne Industries, and Stark International has snapped up about half of them for internships." Dr. Stark smirks. "How's integrating everything coming along?"
"Good, we've got to much information to go through, I'm sure Stark and Bruce have the same thing."
Josette nods. "Bruce and Thomas have been working on it for the last year, they figure another couple of years will take care of everything." Dr. McNider chuckles. "You're still the heir to Wayne Industries?"
"Oh yes, Bruce and Thomas insisted." Josette calls them both something uncomplimentary. Bruce chuckles as he comes up after finishing his tests, kissing her on the head like she'd one of the kids. "Suffer, shorty." She calls him something else uncomplimentary that has the others chuckling. "What are you going for now?"
"Degree in chemical engineering. I've been doing the work for years I figure it's time to actually get the degree." Josette looks at him and sniggers. "Who nagged, Doc or Thomas?"
"Both of them." The others chuckle again. "How'd the first run of the printing go?"
"Good, now that we know it works we can start limited printing runs."
Everybody nods in satisfaction, talking until the buzzer sounds. After lunch Josette and Bruce head off to Haven. Josette absorbs the duplicates that had been working at the ranch and helping out with the others harvests before dinner. The rest of the harvests is in by the end of the week and canned, dried, or otherwise preserved and Josette takes the food delivery to Archimedes, delivering the food to various places on the planet after accepting payment.
After Thanksgiving Josette heads off to Clarinda's dimension with Thomas, Doc, and CJ on Hanover while another of her selves heads off to bring in the last offworld harvest on Brigadoon. They both return an hour later.
"How long were you gone?"
"About five years, regular time. . .a few decades under time dilation." Josette covers her mouth with an arm and nearly inhales it yawning. David sniggers. "Do you know there are whole worlds out there that are little more than malls?"
Alice, who'd come out to do some last minute shopping, shudders. "Yeah, that was my reaction. Everything is imported, even their food."
"That's a disaster in the making." David moans.
"It seems to work for them." Josette shrugs.
"More power to them but. . .Gah!" Susan shakes her head.
"Yeah. Lord Jor-El was there to deliver more supplies for us, including CJ and Doc. He held him for hours, telling him how proud he was of how he'd made his life and how proud he was of Clark and Thomas for making him a good man. We've got tons of stuff to go through for our fortresses." They nod.
The next day Josette joins the others in the Albatross Nest in Albatross for the kits meeting.
"How's everything here in Albatross?"
"Good, once everybody's oohed and aahed over the mall we all came back here." Marilyn says. Josette sniggers. "The baby store will be well used."
Josette nods. "The cheesemaking store has good business, especially now that we've got the dairy's cheeses on display." The others nod.
"Benton's doing another batch next year." The others nod in satisfaction as the talk turns to the kits. Josette drops her bags in the workroom and joins the others walking to the dining hall for lunch.
It takes a few months offplanet in her fortress to take care of everything that had been brought back from the other dimension. Coming back she walks town, looking at the decorations going up for the Lights Festival before joining the others at dinner.