Josette's sitting on Macchu Picchu's pier on the ninth planet as the instruments show buildings arriving at their selected spots. She grins as she sees people looking out windows and doors, they hadn't really believed they could go to bed on one planet and wake up on another. Nearby is Jamestown, another Josette leaning on the railing looking at the other settlement areas as buildings arrive next to the cargo containers of supplies.
"Welcome to the ninth planet. You're early into your spring." Josette says, walking through the tesseract David opens with David and Dad Sanders. "I already planted for you before you arrived, I figured you'd probably be busy working on your homes and the other stuff."
"Thank you Josette." Pieter says, taking a deep breath of clean air. "This is beautiful." He chuckles as multiple windows are opened in various buildings. "What work do you still need done on your buildings?"
"Everything needs at least something done. . ." The lists are sent to James' PADD and he nods as Josette gets on a flyer with David behind her, heading off to the other settlements for lists of what needs to be done and still brought out. A few hours later Dad, Josette, Clark, Pieter, and Charles gather in a room on Macchu to talk about what needs to be done and in what order.
"What about Eureka?" James looks at his son when he comes into the room.
"Pretty good since they were like us and able to work on their buildings before they came up. And they were able to get in stocks of supplies. Thankfully the agency over them kept them out of the asshole in chief's sight. And they had been in contact with the Eureka here to see what they'd need to do. Though it's a shock to see the differences in some people's ages. Or the fact Deputy Lupo is married and the mother of triplets. It's only been a few years since Grandpa Nathan disappeared, Alexander is six and the twins are five."
His father shudders. "That will have him hinting about more children and getting his ass handed to him by Allison for it." Pieter chuckles. "What do you need worked on first, Josette and I will bring out a couple crews from Sanders. It's the middle of winter on Archimedes, they'll be glad for some extra money. And the chance to be outside a good part of the day."
"Do you have a place for them to stay first?"
"They'll stay on Macchu Picchu or whatever ship comes out with me." Josette says. "It's the same thing we do when we're offworld harvesting, we usually have a hundred to a hundred fifty people picking sunup to sundown, moving containers of food to various rooms, cooking, or whatnot. With the time dilation they'll be gone off Archimedes an hour."
"Food for the winter. Haven harvests the food, canning, drying, or otherwise preserving it along with people from the other planets who want to make some extra money. It's delivered to the planets and passed out during the winter. It won't last you the entire winter, it's meant to supplement what you've been canning, drying, or storing out of your gardens and what is growing in the buildings." Pieter nods. "You can't expect to have fresh fruit and vegetables during the winter otherwise. The ones trucked in on Earth were. . ."
"Picked early so they wouldn't go bad during transport then treated with waxes or something else to make them look good and were tasteless?" Josette says. Pieter chuckles. "Indeed. Everybody's looking forward to the chance to eat fresh fruits and vegetables even if the tree crops will take a few years. I had the machines plant two for you, it will be a while before you're comfortable growing your own crops."
"Thank you Josette."
Josette heads off on Macchu Picchu, landing on Archimedes and talking with Joshua before coming back with two crews of Sanders Construction employees.
"Welcome to the ninth planet boys, here's the list of what needs to be done and the locations." They talk a couple of hours about what needs to be done and heads off with Josette and David on Jamestown, promising to be back as soon as they get the switching station up.
"Will they be okay?" Anna asks when they come back to Haven.
"Yeah, they've been planning this a while and made alterations where they could before they came up. The work they do need to do shouldn't take that long, they've got the lists of what's in the containers, and my other self can move the containers to Macchu Picchu as they're emptied while the crews are there. I know they were talking about bringing out more than what they'd brought up this time. Including at least one restaurant. They did some sneaky stuff and copied a number of banks, mints, and other stuff so they have plenty of money if some of the students want to move out that way in the future for jobs or whatnot." The others snigger.
"How's their world?"
"The asshole in chief is moving them closer to a war, it's going to be a lot worse than it's better. The idiots who voted him into office are complaining and he's sneering at them."
"Pooor babies. They expected better when they voted him into office?"
"They thought they could control him. 'Oh he can't be that bad. Now they know different."
"Lemme guess, big business and other commercial industries."
"Yep, those who can that didn't vote for him are leaving in droves, the planet if they have offworld contacts. Like the others, they're shielding what stays behind. He's outraged but the courts wouldn't allow him to seize everything."
"Do we have a satellite to link them?"
"Yep, it's on Macchu Picchu and it's one of the last things going up before. . ." Josette tips her head. "Macchu just landed, my other self is flying back now."
"About nine months, I delivered the others to Archimedes on the way back. The switching station should be up in a couple of weeks." They join and Josette settles on the couch.
"Is it as bad as Josette said?" Dr. Stark asks a couple weeks later after the switching station has linked the planets.
"Worse, the databurst we just received says that he's canceling all scholarships so students are having to leave universities, anybody who's not working at least one shift in a factory making weapons or whatever else he wants have been declared 'enemies of the state' and in concentration camps." ninth planet Dr. Cross says.
"Shit, it's WWII and Nazi Germany all over again."
"Or the Soviet Union and their gulags."
"Yeah, we're expecting the news that the world's at war shortly. Everybody knew what kind of person he was but his money let him get away with anything he wanted. His own people are openly condemning him now. The other countries of the world have closed their borders to us, he's being condemned by the other governments. . .those he hasn't succeeded in bribing or threatening into silence. Nobody believes his 'reputable businessman being targeted by militant vigilantes with abilities not controlled by the government and therefore illegal' bullshit anymore. Now anybody with any abilities is hiding them, under his control, or fled." ninth planet Dr. Stark says.
"Are you the only ones coming offplanet?"
"To this dimension, anybody with offworld contacts and their friends are going elsewhere. Paradise Island had already cut off ties with the outside world and had moved back to their own pocket dimension. The JLA was setting up colonies on the Moon and Mars. We'd had hints the 21st century was going to be a time of strife and sorrow from Superman's forays into the future but he couldn't get anything definite. The information was lost through the wars between the centuries or they felt he'd try to change things. If things change the others might come back to help rebuild but they've made their choices. We helped them move before we left. They're passing along news for us." ninth planet Dr. McNider says.
"Okay, getting away from morbid topics and letting the past stay in the past, how is everything going?"
"Good, the crews from Sanders are on track to have everything finished on our homes, those places that needed the most work are getting worked on first so everybody's got power, water, and sanitation. The units are wonderful, especially with the news that the contents can be used on the gardens." ninth planet Dr. McNider says. "Now, Josette and the others were warning us about rain?"
"We get three or four solid days of rain, water coming down like pouring piss out of a boot three or four times a year, usually in time to give the crops a good start. You can be outside in them but you don't want to be outside in them. We warn people but they think we're overreacting until they experience their first one."
"They are wonderful for filling the cisterns though, it saves hours of hand-pumping to fill them." Josette says, coming through. "They have to be pumped dry before winter though so the water doesn't freeze. We usually clean them then too."
"How many growing cycles do we have?"
"Four and a month or so before it gets too cold." Dr. Stark says. His other self looks interested. "So if we planted another field partway through our fourth growing season we could get it in before frost?"
"It'd be a squeaker. You'd know for sure after a couple of years. We're doing that for the commercial growing, it's less harvests but it's fresh fruit and vegetables coming in before or after our home gardens."
The next day Dr. Cross, Dr. Stark, and Dr. McNider look through the growing building on Archimedes. "This is well thought out, but we shouldn't need something like this for a few years." They chuckle at their Dr. Stark trying to take in everything at once and nodding thanks at the plans sent to their PADDS.
"No, not with your present population and Josette already having an offworld growing area planted for you. Did she give you the list of what they can make from the harvests?"
"Yes, we've made our selections and are talking about what we'll make from the communal gardens this year. The four harvests will handle all our needs until next year, right now we're busy getting our homes and everything up and worked on."
Dr. Stark nods. "Next year or the year after next is good enough to start thinking of home gardens as well as the communal gardens. Haven started their growing building before their first winter but they also had the school a handful of people who'd settled in town and their own land from the beginning, and four universities on Haven, one that specializes in farming."
"That would be damn handy."
"One of the reasons they came up. Assyrian and Edinborough specialize in textiles, which would be needed on the new planets, and Montague was a good friend. They've all settled in well and have their places in Haven's community. The fourth planet has Cambridge and Oxford, all the other universities are on the computer."
"I'd wondered how you handled universities. Through GD's continuing education?"
"Yes, though Josette and David are on teacher for their university classes, it was a test back on Earth to see if Teacher could handle further education, Josette's abilities made her the perfect person as a guinea pig. Of course she didn't stop using the other system. The students, both the ones still at the school after we lost Earth and those who came up from the second, take their classes on their PADDS. It's a variation of how students took their classes on Earth after all the schools shut down thanks to the dumbasses of education."
"What happened?" the ninth planet Dr. Stark sighs.
"Some idiot who needed to show something to keep his cushy job tried forcing everybody to have an education degree even though the courts had already ruled they didn't need it years ago. Josette was due up for a new contract at the school, she couldn't get a new one because while she had a masters in Library Science, she didn't have an education degree." Charles, Pieter, and Dr. Stark look up at the ceiling sighing. "Yeah." Archimedes Dr. Stark rolls his eyes. "Is your DoD contact General Harris?" Nods from the others. "He started investigating and took the moron to court, especially when schools started getting letters saying to fire people for not having education degrees, they were tainting the students."
"Yes, schools were shutting down since the Principals were gutting all their support staff, including cooks, bus drivers, janitorial, secretaries. . .but not one teacher. He finally got a court date a few months before Josette's one year extension of her contract lapsed and the school was left without a librarian. The lower judge ruled against him, and ruled that those people who'd lost their jobs could sue the agency for this shit. He howled but the judge found the letters he'd been sending out to the schools and the people who lost their jobs or the schools hadn't fired yet disgusting. He said he'd appeal to the Supreme Court, some asshole there didn't bother to read the decision and found for the Department of Education since he was in a busy to go on vacation and 'they're being mean to me'."
This time swearing from the others.
"Yeah, once they were inconvenienced by people picketing and one of the justice's daughter losing her job and his granddaughter's school closing, they finally read the decision and talked to the other judge, realizing they'd fucked up. They agreed to hear the case. . .in two more years."
More sighs and swearing. "Let me guess, when the two years came around they found an excuse to pass the buck again and didn't hear it?" The second Dr. Stark asks.
"Exactly. Those schools that had been open closed either when they realized for Christmas break when they realized the case wouldn't be heard or at the end of the school year. Only private schools were left and they were at or over capacity. The moron in the Department of Education strutted around like he was the man and tried going after religious schools next."
"Separation of church and state."
"He didn't care, the idea of nuns teaching incensed him. And some of the more religious ones don't allow laypeople."
"Do you have more information on this?"
"Oh yes, there's tons on information on the servers, including a university degree. Are you settling in well?"
"Yes, thank you for warning us that sunscreen would be a must."
"It took us weeks to make sure everybody knew they needed sunscreen and hats whenever they came outside, after all that shit in the atmosphere people wanted to be out in the sunlight. And spending hours outside harvesting the fields and gardens, you'll definitely need both."
"We'd noticed the hats and giant bottles of sunscreen in the front of the dorm during our visits." Charles McNider chuckles. He looks over as the door opens and Clark comes in. "We just got the latest update, Luthor just shut down all the colleges and universities, sending in his goon squads to throw everybody out. The students were drafted into the military and the teachers put in concentration camps for 'actions against the state', they got the news out before he took over the media, the other countries are passing along the news and there's talk about war."
"We had to expect it." The ninth planet Dr. Stark sighs, then looks at his counterpart. "You'd gone through something similar from what the others said."
Dr. Stark nods. "In our case it was China attacking Japan and North Korea. North Korea sent missiles to their 'enemies' in retaliation, in this case the US and South Korea. We shot down the missiles before they reached us but they hit South Korea. Japan was devastated, 90 percent of their population killed instantly, the rest died of illness or exposure." The newcomers shudder. "War was declared against China and North Korea. The military thought they'd taken out China's military infrastructure, they ended up sending off more missiles that attacked India and Russia. Pakistan attacked India while they were hurting since they're bottom feeders. The war finally ended, China had lost nearly all of their population when they started conscripting their civilians during the war when the military was gone."
"Shit, and with the one child per couple laws. . ."
"Yeah, the people who did survive were old who lived in rural villages. Less than a hundred thousand people out of a billion. We think North Korea was fuming under the sanctions and planning another attack that somebody found out about, we were woke up one morning to the news their nuclear missiles had exploded in the silos or on the ground and the country was either dying of radiation sickness or from the nuclear winter that the country would shortly be experiencing. All we could do was keep the country under a dome to keep the radiation from spreading to the rest of the world."
"Russia and India?"
"Russia wasn't all that into the war before they were attacked. . ."
"And like bullies who'd been knocked down they came up screaming for blood." Dr. Cross snorts.
"Oh yes, why hadn't we stopped them before that happened? Not that they'd wanted the war or sanctions in the first place. . ."
"Of course they didn't. . ." the ninth planet Dr. Stark says, rolling his eyes. Archimedes Dr. Stark laughs. "Exactly. We think there was more damage than they admitted to, with one of the bombs hitting their nuclear facility. They refused outside help, claiming they had everything under control."
"Lost a good portion of their infrastructure, and a chunk of their population. But they were rebuilding, including demolishing the Calcutta slums since they didn't need any more sicknesses. Josette had gone on a visit with Pat a couple years after the war, most everybody had jobs supplying power, they were working on water treatment next. Not only was the country rebuilding, it was improving."
"Their infrastructure was completely gone. Only the rural villages left and they were all older people so no chance of them ever rebuilding anything. After what had happened to Japan, most people felt it was only right."
"Did they ever find the cause for the attack?"
"Nope, the only person who'd know for sure in currently rotting in hell. In North Korea's case we think it was the kid who'd took over after his daddy died being led around by the nose by the old guard or trying to prove himself to the old guard, including his uncle."
"Possible, in our case it's a power-hungry megalomaniac flexing his muscles." ninth planet Doc says dryly. "You'd think the world would have learned after Hitler."
"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." Dr. Stark says. The others nod. "We expect people to be better than they are."
"People got complacent and greedy, now they're dealing with the fallout. Josette was saying that anybody who could leave was?"
"Yes, there was ten multi-country colony worlds that a lot of people signed up for. He wasn't upset until he realized a lot of scientists as well as other people America needed were gone, he demanded they come back and he was laughed at. He's saying that they'll be arrested if they come back, he doesn't realize they don't plan on coming back."
"They're coming back because he says they're coming back?"
"Indeed, he can't believe that people would willingly leave the planet rather than live under his thumb." Ninth planet Dr. Stark says. "I expect the primary schools will be next, with students working in the factories so adults can go into the military. Or he'll go after the churches, he's already running roughshod over the constitution, what's one more thing?"
"Is there anything we need to think about over the next few years? Beyond settling in, bringing out the other things we need, and the gardens?"
"Yes, when you start having children beyond the gestation chambers. Especially considering I know you've said that there's a small percentage of men in your dimension that can bear children. Not your first pregnancies, not even your second but possibly your third. . .your bodies will adapt to the longer days and you won't be having 40 week pregnancies." The four doctors look at him. "On Haven pregnancies are around twenty weeks now. We still use the 40 week measurements to chart the fetal progress. Ours are about fourteen weeks. Birth weights will be bigger too, with the abundance of fresh air, sunshine, and good food."
"Damn, how long does it take?"
"Maybe ten years, it takes about that long for your bodies to start adapting to the longer years."
"That's got to be convenient." Dr. Cross says.
"Oh it is, our pregnancies started getting shorter during our third pregnancy on Haven but it wasn't until about our fifth that they settled into twenty weeks." Josette says coming over. The others look at her. "Time difference, I've been home a couple weeks already, so's the crews working on your buildings. I'm here picking up the books for our fall classes since we signed up for them last week."
"How are the others on their classes?"
"Susan's four classes from her Masters with this next semester, David's a year from his, plus six semesters into his bachelors. Alan's finishing his bachelors."
"And the twins finished their business doctorates last year. Alexander and Michael?"
"A year into their masters this fall, like Alan they were getting in three classes a semester. The girls were getting in two classes a semester, David was getting in three classes but it was two for one Masters and one for the other, then switching them the other semester."
"Pregnancies are shorter?" Rick, Courtney, Kara, and Billy smile. One of the last things the old wizard had done before he'd released Billy, Mary, and Freddy as his champions had been to make Billy a hermaphrodite like he'd supposed to have been born. They were stronger than they had been, and Billy could still feel magic. He suspects that any children he has will be magic users.
"Not at the beginning but your bodies will start adapting according to all the data we got from Eureka." Pieter says as the door opens and Freddy comes in, leaning on his crutch. "Mary and I are done looking over the trees, everything's looking good, the crew from Sanders say the domes will automatically come up when the temperature drops far enough and they'll stay up until it warms again in the spring. They say the others planets use them for crops that wouldn't survive over the winter, otherwise they'd have to plant them by the equator and they don't have the manpower to stay down there to take care of the crops."
"Did you get any weird looks ordering this stuff?" Josette asks outside where she's sorting out supplies with Michael. He's on the ground and she's halfway up the second row of shipping containers, perched on a ladder.
"Not with so many colony ships heading off to other planets. We'd all had the contacts to have it sent to various warehouse complexes or holding areas under different names. Not everybody in the government are friends of Luthor's, they were funneling money or supplies to people who wanted out before they left too. Luthor might be President but the government is deep in debt. Those people that might have helped turn it around he saw as a threat and they're either in a concentration camp, dead, or left. . .either the country or the world."
"How did the ships get to their new planets? Or are they still traveling? When they were talking about colonizing worlds in the other dimension, they were talking about generation ships for the further away planets where we wouldn't see our new planet but our great-grandchildren would. But that would mean massive amounts of supplies, both for those people on the ships and to start the colony." Michael nods. "For the planets about twelve light years away, Clark and I were talking about putting the ships in tractor beam from our ships and delivering them that way. With the time dilation, it would only be about an hour. The first step would have been charting inhabitable worlds but we never got that far." Michael pats her hand, they'd heard about the meteor that had destroyed that other Earth.
"They got delivered by Superman and Green Lantern, they had supplies waiting on them on arrival. It's going to be a rough start but they knew what they were in for when they signed up for the colonies." Michael's eyes grow distant a couple minutes before he pulls his attention back to what they'd been doing. Josette shuts the shipping container and moves down to the ladder on the bottom one. She turns around so she's facing him, her butt perched on a rung.
"We had it so much easier coming out since we had our homes." Josette says. Michael nods. "They might need a little work but it's got to be better than living on a ship until homes can be built. You had our crops already planted, they'll need to plant right away for themselves and their animals, putting up housing for the animals will come before housing for humans."
Josette nods. "They won't be able to live on the ships like the humans can. That's why the first thing that was built on the planets before we arrived was barns and fields laid out for the livestock. They came out just before you did. As did the shelter pets."
"The colony worlds cleaned out a lot of shelters, they deserved the chance at a new life too. We also got a lot of rescue horses new places on the other planets."
"Josette, how do you handle the animals breeding?"
"Our GD came up with an additive that chemically fixes dogs and cats, when we want to breed them we take them off it for a while. The cows and horses we let them breed the first year and the vets at Balaclava were working on figuring out their fertile periods."
"The animal experts at GD are going to be doing that." Charles says, coming over and plucking Josette off the ladder she'd been perched on. "Time to eat."
"Anyway, once we figured that out it was easy enough to separate the animals out when the females went into heat. That's how most breeders do it anyway." Michael nods as they go inside.
"Have you figured out where you're putting up the growing building next year?" She asks Drs. Cross and McNider.
"Yes, both that and the greenhouses."
Michael looks at her. "Josette, you said you and Clark would be putting the ships in tractor beam to deliver the ships to the colony worlds? Do you mean Macchu Picchu and the other cities?"
"No. You guys know I'm the multiverse's play toy in a never-ending game of catch and release, right? Clark's dimension was the first one I was brought to but not the only one. Each world has had varying levels of contact with other worlds. Clark's the least, then ours, yours, our family from the other dimension, Doc and the Doctor, and finally the Legionnaires." Everybody who'd been at the parties nod. "Though I think Doc and the Doctor might be between Clark's world and ours." She says thinking a second and shaking her head. "Anyway, on Clark's world we found two alien spacecraft that exist outside time and space. These things are huge, we used them to help bring in supplies for Clark, Thomas, and CJ when they were preparing to move to Haven since they needed the change their identities, they'd been Clark Savage the fourth and Thomas Wayne Jr. for about 40 years and people would start to realize they weren't getting any older. We also used mine to harvest their Earth when the meteor struck the moon."
"Where are they?"
"Mine's in orbit around the first planet, Clark's is by a moon on Haven. We're on them at least once a year, I did the projects for my zero gravity hydroponics and botany degrees on mine. Last year I was experimenting with different crops than we normally grow on the satellite. We're slowly introducing new foods on Haven and the other planets, some more successful than others."
Billy leads the way down the stairs into the tunnel, the men from Sanders Construction looking around with large flashlights as he leads them to an area. "Back on Earth this faucet was attached to piping that gave me water. On our new planet. . ."
Josette looks around. "You're going to be adding plumbing and whatnot to the buildings, right?" Billy nods. "It won't be that much more work to hook up the lines to the piping for the buildings." The crew from Sanders nods. "How did you get light?"
"On Earth, the windows up there were curbside street level, it brought in more light than you think it would because of where the tunnel was there were a lot of streetlights."
"Was this an indoor growing area?" One of the men asks, looking in a room. The light of his flashlight is reflected by numerous mirrors.
"Yes, it wasn't as large as the areas you have but for one person. . ."
"Again, light from outside reflected off the mirrors?"
Billy nods. "I used a mixture of compost from the toilet, compost from the stores, and potting soil from stores." One of the engineers looks around. "No fuse box or lines run?"
"No, they never got that far when they dug the tunnel. As you can see it's the bare platforms and the tunnel that ends at walls on either end where they would have connected to other lines."
"Are you living down here right now?"
"No, I eventually want to turn the buildings above us into living space, right now I've got a room at Dr. Cross's home when I'm not staying at the Bromfields. But every building has to have at least some work done now that we've arrived."
"It will be a bit, but we can install a geothermal heat unit and run lines down here."
"You're the expert Max." Josette says.
"Did they start installing electricity?" The electrician in the group asks.
"Not in the tunnel itself, but there's a hatch on the wall behind the boxes that was meant to bring power from overhead lines."
He nods in satisfaction as he looks over the hatch. "Yes, we can hook this up to the alternate power source and run lines. These walls weren't meant to be the final product, they'd have been tiled over once plumbing, heating, and electrical was added."
"That's what I'd like." Billy brings up a picture of tile. "Yeah, we can do that." He says. "Are those woodstoves?"
"Yes, I brought the stoves out in the winter, I have fake walls over there I set up around the kitchen and sleeping area to keep the heat from being lost."
"Yeah, we can add some extra heat units. Now, the buildings."
Billy rummages in a box. "Inspections and plans that were made before Luthor took over."
The head of the crew nods in satisfaction, reading them when they're outside. "Oh yes, we can expand on these."
"Josette," Mary's foster mother Nora asks one day. "This is probably a dumb question, but does anybody quilt on the planets?"
"Half of Town and nearly all of Albatross. Smallville on the fourth planet has a quilting group, the Amish women all quilt, Assyrian and Edinborough offer quilting classes, as do the two fabric stores in Town and Albatross's store. The school has quilting, sewing, and knitting classes and I've been knitting and quilting for over seventy years."
The other women who'd been pretending they were just in the room and not eavesdropping smile. "You quilt?"
"Yeah, I have workrooms on all the ships for when I'm on a long trip. Sewing relaxes me. We have monthly kits of stuff like socks, scarves, hats, mittens, sewing projects, and quilts. I've designed some of the quilts. We generally have a good sized stock of old clothes for patchwork quilts, but it was used up last year when we had an early winter. I saved tons of old clothes from the other dimension, I gotta bring some out. Our stock of 'old but still wearable for dirty stuff' adult clothes took a hit when we started growing commercially on the other planets. I gotta bring some of that out too."
They'd gone to Haven the next day to visit places, including the candymaker, the cheesemaker, and the dairy. The yarn and fabric stores had been a huge hit, more than one of them signing up for beginning knitting, sewing, and quilting classes. Josette had taken everybody interested to the Albatross Nest in Albatross.
"Am I nuts or is this the same store as in Town?" Courtney asks, looking around. Some things look different but a lot of it looks the same.
"It is, we first brought up the Albatross Nest when we came to Haven, building an addition when it came up then again several years later. When Albatross came up, the 'original' store came with them and has been added onto over the years too. We all take turns working shifts at the various stores and covering lunches." The other women working on projects there nod. "Not that there's not usually somebody here working on a project who can slip behind the counter and ring somebody up." Everybody else working on stuff nod.
"Sue's store has been renovated too over the years, her niece took over running the store when she moved up to Haven with us and she came up later. Her 'original' store was brought up too, but it came up to Archimedes. The women over there take shifts working there along with Nicole."
"I understand why you stayed to attend this," Jay says, looking around the tables set up in front of various buildings and empty spaces. "This reminds me of the fairs my parents told me about before, during, and after the great war. Not in the cities, but in the farming communities."
"Yes, being here 'recharged our batteries' and let us deal with what was going on with Luthor and the other villains. This is what life on Earth might have been like if it wasn't for man's hatred and greed." Dr. McNider says, looking around the people talking, teenagers and young adults running errands for the women shopping.
Dr. Cross chuckles as he pulls Courtney to a stop. "Slow down, the festival lasts three days. You have plenty of time to see everything."
"Yep, we can head home by the switching station or we can stay in the dorms." Dr. McNider waves a hand at the buildings in the distance. "They're like college dorms, bathrooms at the end of the hall. Half the buildings have solar panels, the rest have batteries that handle everything but lights after dark."
Courtney sits down on one of the beds in a dorm room, taking off her shoes and rubbing her feet. Her mother Barbara sits on the bed across from her and chuckles. "I agree, that's a lot of walking. But it was worth it. There's so much we took for granted on Earth."
"Did you and Pat talk about Mikey's schooling?"
"We did and they have a good selection of classes he's going to be taking online."
"This isn't instant oatmeal." Dr. Cross says at the communal kitchen the next morning.
"No, we've been experimenting with oats, the flour factory makes a variety of steel cut oats without us having to bring out another factory to handle them. You have to soak them for several hours but you can make hot oatmeal in ten to fifteen minutes, adding the flavors you find in the instant stuff."
"Quick cooking oats?"
"We don't have the machinery to steam them but we can use the food replicators to make them. If they bring out the factory that makes the steel cut oats, it should handle that too."
"Oh my lord." Ma Hunkel says. Josette looks up and laughs.
"You won't have to worry about this for a while."
"This is the fleeces from the sheep."
"And goats. Edinborough and a farm outside Albatross grow Alpacas too but they generally handle their own fleeces." Josette picks up a fleece from a pile and puts it in the water, moving it up and down to remove the loose stuff before it's passed down. Looking at the basin, she dumps the water and fills it with clean.
"What are you doing?"
"This station starts the wash, getting rid of the loose stuff. Then the next stations continue the process with shampoo until the fleeces are clean. Then they're dyed, combed, carded, and spun into yarn, thread, or cloth. The cotton goes through the same process, but we leave part of the crop in the natural state. Some of it goes in the medical replicator for bandages, we don't have the machinery to make them and keep them sterile but we can replicate them." Dr. Cross nods in satisfaction. "We leave the cotton crop for the towel factory in the natural state too, they have the machinery to dye large lots and turn it into towels, washcloths, bath sheets, and bath mats."
"I noticed baggies at the yarn store. . .?" Barbara says.
"Yep, part of the natural stuff goes there too. They sell one pound packages for people to dye and spin themselves, it generally gives you enough for a pair of socks, gloves, or a hat."
A few days after the Harvest Festival Courtney, Billy, Mary, and Rick head back to Haven, arriving a few hours later back on the ninth planet.
"Where were you?"
"We volunteered to help with the harvest to get an idea what harvesting is going to be like." Courtney says. "We were off Haven only an hour, but we were gone nearly six months. When we came back we headed to the dorms for a couple hours nap, did our laundry, and got a good meal at the communal kitchen. We got a good chunk of change for harvesting, and we earned every penny. It was sunup to sundown, either picking, moving boxes to various rooms, or cooking for everybody. And it's just as busy for the others, once the food arrives back on Haven they start canning, drying, or storing the food."
"You were on Josette's ship? What's it like?"
"It's a city, the others have been doing this for a while and knew their way, we found our way quickly thanks to the arrows and 'you are here' notes on the walls. There were buildings set up as dorms, Josette said it's similar to the temporary housing that the students who were still in school lived in after they lost their earth."
Josette slides into a seat. "Yeah, we had about twelve temporary housing units between the animal and sorting planets. Each was five floors and had room for a hundred fifty to three hundred students depending if they stacked the beds or not. There wasn't a lot of room in there, they basically lived out of a trunk."
The others shudder. "We started bringing out the apartment complexes after a few years, the reason we're so good at making furniture is we've had plenty of experience. Once an apartment complex was up they'd hold a lottery to see who got apartments, once the winners found out they got a place they ordered furniture. We tried to get everybody out of the temporary housing in four months, they didn't have all their furniture, but they had at least the bed they'd slept in, a dresser for their clothes, one piece of padded furniture, plus a table and chair to eat it, at least one lamp, and cooking utensils. The rest was delivered over the rest of the year. Once they were in permanent housing they got the rest of their belongings out of the containers it had been stored in since they left school. We learned from our mistakes with the students this time, we brought out an apartment complex to 'grow on' before we were asked to take them in, then brought out a second. Then the fourth planet purchased a complex and asked us to furnish the apartments, then we brought out one for the sorting planet, then Archimedes, and in a couple of years the animal planet."
"Much better, they might not have furnished apartments but they have a home waiting on them when they leave the dorms."
Josette nods. "Those who aren't moving into the furnished ones are getting in their orders for furniture as soon as they've selected their house or apartment so they have everything waiting on them when they leave school. They started moving seasonal clothes and non-essential stuff over this summer, when they finish their finals this fall the dorms will start emptying out. They can even order a batch of groceries to be waiting for them when they permanently move in, though I don't think most of them will want to cook their first night home and pick up something from the communal kitchen or pizza parlors on their way home. We let them know when students are leaving the dorm so they can cook stuff up ahead of time."
"I can understand that." Joan sighs. "That's what they made slowcookers for, put everything in in the morning and let it cook low and slow, then stay warm until you're ready. Or have something like the communal kitchen with everybody taking turns cooking meals."
"Josette, what are the polls they were talking about during the Harvest Festival?"
"Every year or so we make a new batch of candy when the supply we have gets low, putting up a poll to determine what we make next. Whatever has the most votes wins. Same thing with the toothpaste when we need to start the factory up again. That way everybody has a say in the matter. The poll for the candy factory was due to end this week. The poll for the toothpaste will be up around the Lights Festival. It takes about four months to make a batch, we'll be running low on toothpaste by the time the next one is ready to be delivered."
"That's nice, that way everybody gets the chance to have an input. And if your toothpaste isn't selected?"
"There's tons in stasis on the ships. Earth was a consumer planet." The others nod. "And there's always the replicator."
"Do you deliver to the other planets?"
"Yep, once we know for certain what we're making we send that information out and the other planets get their orders in to us and they start production. The towel, toilet paper, and glass factories the planets will put in their individual orders and I'll pick them up."
The next day Josette looks around and grins.
"Is anybody interested in a little trip into outer space to look around?"
As she'd expected she has no lack of volunteers and after a quick call to Doc's headquarters and Eureka Josette welcomes everybody to Macchu Picchu before settling in the control chair and having it shift around her into a chamber.
"Josette?" Dr. Cross moves toward her. Rick puts a hand on her arm. "Josette's not really flying the ship, the ship is. But she's in the chair for takeoffs and landings when she's on the ship. The chamber monitors her to make sure she's in no distress." As Rick had said Josette sits up once they're in space, getting up and walking to a panel.
"I'm shutting off the lights for a second, don't be worried."
"Ohhhhh!" Ted Knight says, looking at the starfield around them. "This is magnificent."
"Yeah, looking at something like this reminds you just how small a part of the universe you really are." Josette turns the view back to normal after a few minutes.
"Is that the eleventh planet?" Doc asks as they approach.
"Yeah, I'm dl'ing the data from the weather satellite in orbit for GD. This year and next I'm bringing in supplies for the labs, the year after that they're looking at starting the next test of life on a permanent winter planet."
"Can we get a copy of the data?"
"Sure." They take a tour of the rest of the system, Michael and Ted looking at the twin suns for a few long minutes. Josette smirks and brings them near the satellite.
"Oh Lord that's huge. . ." Michael says. It's easily a few hundred times larger than the Justice League's watchtower. Even with the additions and technology upgrades when the League moved off Earth.
"The botany section is as big as the entire school. And that's just a small portion. I spent a good six months on it last year exploring and working on new crops in the hydroponics section and I haven't gone over one percent of it yet."
"If there is, they're shy. I made sure I talk to the satellite whenever I'm there and so have the ladies." They both send a message to the satellite before heading off.
"First planet growing area?" Dr. McNider asks and Josette takes them into the atmosphere, putting the latest pictures on the screens. "I'll be planting the second crop of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs in a few weeks."
"Olive oil?" They can see the grove of olive trees.
"Yep, I check the stock to see how much I have on hand from the last harvest before I pick. That way if I'm running low I press more oil, if I had a good year I put more green olives in barrels to eat or stuff. I eat them by the handful, disgusts the others but Mom and Mom just laughed, said it was just like Dad's sardines or anchovies." Shudders from some of the others and laughter from the rest. "Every other year or so I leave some of the olives to ripen to black, slice them up and put them in barrels, bringing out a jar at a time."
"Yeah, this variety I bottle as soon as I pick, the others I age for a few years."
"How many do you grow?"
"With Alessandro five, I grow two on Haven and he grows a third, we have an offworld growing area that I pick and leave some on the vines for ice wine."
"Are all the grapes for wine?"
"Nope, we grow a good selection for eating too, they go in stasis so they don't go bad."
The second planet comes closer. "That's Doc's lab, he, Thomas, and CJ usually try to come out at least once a year. They've got a good sized botany section where they're looking at the effect the shorter growing season have on the crops. The first planet day is only about twelve hours, but it's a permanent tropics so that offsets the shorter daylight." The others nod. "The second planet day?"
"Eighteen hours, and they have actual seasons. Though it doesn't get much snow in the winter."
The others blink as the third planet comes up on the screen.
"This is our 'holiday' planet, we saved as much as we could from Earth figuring it would be needed for rebuilding when the ice age ended. Then the solar flares happened." Josette sighs. "We lost a lot of our history from the wars, a good chunk of these are from the other dimension."
"You said this is your holiday planet?"
"Yeah, you can spend a couple of days in one of the hotels, there's robots and holographic images to help you. We brought the kids to Disneyworld when they came over from the other dimension and the teachers will set assignments over the school break, they come here in groups to answer questions." Josette chuckles. "We did the same thing during their senior trips, they had questions on nearly everything they saw during the two weeks they were away."
"Two weeks?" Joan asks. "That's a long time to be away from school."
"Yeah, but that was two cities. Once the classes started growing we added additional trips. The ones at the end of the year had to wait and usually came back to the school Monday mornings just in time to shower, put on clean clothes, and eat breakfast before their first day of finals or less often a week of review but the students on the earlier trips had homework as well as their questions." Josette smirks as the others laugh, even those who don't have kids. "Those students who were on tap for the last trip worked on extra assignments before they left so they had everything finished before they left."
"Oh jeez, if they just got back in time for their finals they'd have to pack up to leave after they came back." Pat says. More than one moan from people who'd had to do just that.
"They started early the winter semester their senior year. Mostly because they'd look around their rooms and realize 'oh shit, I got move all this stuff?'." More snickers from the others. "We had donation bins set up at the school library and the administration building when the class size started exploding and would hold a sale in our dining room for the students to go through everything. Anything left over, generally books and clothes went on a table at the flea market and what didn't sell after Labor Day was donated to one of the second-hand stores in town." The others nod in satisfaction. "The closer to the start of the new school year the faster the clothes were sold." The parents nod. "Of course the 'cool kids' would have been horrified at not having new clothes for every season but then these were the idiots getting drunk and stupider and were stunned when they went before the judge for their misbehaving and got serious jail time instead of a slap on the wrist or smoke blown up their ass. 'But my daddy's 'wich', you can't punish me'."
Snorts from the others. "Half the time they came by it honestly."
"Oh yeah, there was a woman in the quilting guild I used to belong to, she felt she was soooo much better than everybody else because she married money. She was one of those fool women who had to have the best of everything and if she needed something she went out and brought two or three of them instead of just the one she needed. She ended up killing her husband and tried to kill his mistress, she was furious when the will didn't leave everything to her, instead his son from his first marriage got everything. She kicked and howled and caused a fuss in prison, suing to have her food switched from what the common people eat to a private chef." Everybody rolls their eyes or laughs. "She couldn't have weekly manicures, pedicures, massages, or facials. She had to work and her cell was smaller than her walk-in closet. The stepson gave all her quilting supplies to the guild, she was furious and was going to sue to get everything back when the judge and her lawyer told her to grow the fuck up, everything had been paid for with her husband's money and she couldn't profit from her crime. Didn't stop her from causing trouble, she wrote the main guild and cried crocodile tears that she'd been forced to leave the guild without provocation, some idiot didn't check the facts and closed our guild as punishment. Lynda was head of the guild and sent them a letter with all the facts saying that she was asked to leave the group we belonged to because she was in prison for life without the possibility of parole for first degree murder and attempted murder."
"Yeah, you can't really drop everything for meetings." Charles snorts. "They tend to get touchy about people trying to leave prison. Even if they promise they'll be right back."
"Yeah, so the clerk who didn't check the facts had a dozen and a half eggs on his face." Snickers from the others. "They quickly reversed their decision and the group was reinstated, we didn't even miss a meeting. Until they got a wild hair up their ass a few years after we moved to Haven and started closing guilds that they felt didn't have enough members and put together others. Then whined when they lost members and put out fliers trying to get people to join. They were stunned when people didn't come flocking to them." Snorts from the others. "That sounds like big business mentality."
"The expos are open to the general population, but you have to be a member to get in on the lottery for the classes. Some stupid woman at the door couldn't believe I had the money for a membership, then when I gave her my bonafides she was whimpering." The others had found out that Josette, Alexander, and Michael had been award winning artists before they'd moved dimensions. "Then I spent the expo having people trying to get me to join the guild."
"Should have kept the group you were a member of then." Courtney snorts. "Cut off your nose to spite your face." Pat says, patting her on the shoulder.
"Yeah. There was talk about setting up the first chapter in space but nothing ever came of it."
"Did you continue your shows after leaving Earth?"
"Yeah, the boys and I went back to Earth usually once a year for shows. 'OMG, I have to have it, it's from another world. Oh I know, can't you just die'." Josette says in an airhead impression that has everybody cackling. "Headquarters and the school came down other times, May so the students graduating could leave and parents could bring the incoming class to school and the others could stock up on snacks and other stuff we didn't have on Haven, get new clothes and stuff like that. We also came down in December for Christmas. With the time difference our two week breaks was nearly a month on Earth and our end of year five week break was 67 days. I went down at least six to eight times a year for expos. Pat and Bethany went down for three of those, the one in December in DC others joined us for, Frances and Elaine from the school, Suzie, Sandra, and Joan from Assyrian, and some of the others from Town and Albatross attended others depending on what they were for. Since I had the ships we were able to bring back what we'd brought at the expos and other supplies. I usually visited yarn, textiles, and fine arts suppliers while I was on Earth, they ended up moving their businesses to Haven, the fourth planet, or Archimedes They got in large batches of supplies before they came up and started expanding their operations once they were here."
"That makes sense, Earth was overcrowded. That's one of the reasons we were seeking other planets." Dr. Cross says. "When Luthor took over the plans were kicked into high gear."
Josette nods. "Edinborough and Balaclava were the only ones that had the room to add new buildings on Earth, they expanded the fields and grazing area for their herds. Montague and Assyrian started work on new buildings the first spring after they came up, Montague had joined with two of my other schools that had similar curricula. Schools were closing thanks to the damn epidemics taking out teachers and students, and like a lot of fields it's not something you could just hire somebody right in off the street." The others nod. "Eureka and the school built on Earth and when we came back down the new additions were incorporated."
"That would have been convenient."
"It was, we added onto the school and other places with the buildings from Earth when we lost it but we still needed to add onto the library, fine arts buildings, and textiles buildings over the last couple of years. Tesseracts give you unlimited space but it also makes stuff like flooring look like area rugs when you're done." Charles chuckles. "Did that, spent months fixing rooms. And living through the process was. . ."
"like riding a roller coaster in the comfort of your own home."
"We did one floor at a time, when it got too bad we could go upstairs or leave the dorm entirely. We did one floor at a time for school buildings too. It took about two to three days back on earth, we started it after the last class and it was finished before school started again first day. The library was worked on over the break, I brought everything out of the rooms to clean the room, take care of the carpeting, and see if the shelves needed any work beyond a good cleaning. It took about four, five days a room."
"Did just suppliers come up?"
"No, a manufacturer from Great Britain came up to the fourth planet, one of the suppliers that handled their stuff in the states came out too. They started expanding their operation as soon as they arrived. We managed to get suppliers that handled all the major yarn and fabric companies to come up." The others nod in satisfaction.
"Is that an artificial moon?" Ted Knight asks when they come near Haven. The others look at him in disbelief but Josette laughs. "Yes it is, there's one on Archimedes too. Ours holds islands from the Bermuda Triangle we had as a vacation spot on Earth. One of the islands had a hot spring we used to relax aching muscles and warm up in during a bad winter on Earth. It was called the storm of the century by the media, those of us who were in its path called it something a lot worse. The damn thing stayed over us nearly three weeks just dumping snow. The meteorologist kept telling us it was going to move out of the system, about the fifth time they said that it finally did move. There was 20 feet of snow in some areas by the time it was over, the dorms were buried, everybody put their garbage out in the tunnels for maintenance to pick up since the doors were buried. It was nearly a month before we got our power back and that was because we were on the list of places that got it back first since we're a boarding school. Schools around us were out about six weeks."
The others shake their heads.
"A friend of ours had a similar vacation hideaway on another island, his is in the satellite that orbits Archimedes. We used the islands as gardens during the winter to keep us, family, and friends in fresh fruit and vegetables over the winter back on earth, we grow every few years now."
"An artificial sun?"
"Yes, it also heats the hot spring. The inside is a tesseract, Lee and Harry are surveying it."
"This is probably a dumb question, but can the ships move by themselves?"
"Yes we can," Macchu Picchu says. "We were scattered around various solar systems for centuries, when Atlantis let us know she'd chosen we all came to this system to meet Josette."
"Yes, the one with the ships docked to it is the manufacturing satellite, the others are satellites Earth built to save universities, the world's banking systems, and other technology that they'd need after the ice age ended on Earth. There's one that has the equipment to manufacture yarn and cloth, again everything they'd need for the future. When we missed three databursts from Earth, I went looking and found everybody who hadn't been sent to the fourth planet in a satellite on the other side of the moon. After checking there were no survivors on Earth I sent the recall signal and gathered all the satellites in a tractor beam. The satellite with people went into orbit around the fourth planet, the others went into orbit around Haven."
Josette spends the next few weeks working on the farm machinery with Michael, getting everything converted to alternative energy. The crops are beginning to come up and everybody's outside walking through the gardens and checking on the larger crops.
The crops start coming in and everybody's busy working in the garden picking or in the kitchens, canning, drying, or storing the food. They'd already decided what they'd plant in the next garden and Josette, Mary, and Billy are busy clearing the garden and putting the plants in the compost pile. Josette checks the probes and starts turning and wetting everything down.
"So how long until we can use the manure?"
"You might be able to use it by next year, but I'd give it two just to be on the safe side." A botanist from GD who'd come out to inspect their garden site nods. "How often do you spread manure?"
"Every spring, we leave it to sit on the ground a few days before tilling it under. A few days after that we plant. We till the last harvest's plants under in the fall. The other harvests we pull them and throw them in the compost pile. That's added before the other crops are planted."
"Good, do you have raised beds?"
"I do on the first planet for stuff like peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and herbs that thrive in the hot environment, I usually plant two crops every other year. Part of the peppers I pick green and the rest I leave to ripen."
"Excellent. Always the same plants?"
"Nope, different tomatoes and peppers. I sell part of the crops to the communal kitchen and Vincent, the rest of the tomatoes and part of the peppers go in stasis, with the rest being dried. When the stock of what I have in stasis is getting low they get planted again, the herbs get repeated more often."
"Josette, what was that building by your fish farm?" Billy asks.
"Aquaponics, the dirty fish water fertilizes the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish to dirty again. Before we built it we used the water on the fields, part of it we still do."
"That's an excellent source of nutrients. Did you scale up?"
"Yeah, the original test was a fish tank in our house that's used for herbs, there's also one in the administration building at the school and there's a setup somewhere at GD in Archimedes. We have two big ones on Haven, ours and the government fish farm."
"How often do you harvest the fish?"
"Four or five years? Yeah. We put some in stasis, dry some, and smoke some. Those years we also smoke soft cheeses for the cheesemaker and jalapenos for chipilotes."
"Latest information feed is in." Michael says coming up to them as the gardens are raked flat.
"Bad?" the botanist asks.
"Luthor just declared religions illegal, there's rioting in the streets. He's ordered the military to go in and shut down churches convents, religious schools, mosques, synagogues, all houses of worship as spreading anti-American sentiments."
"More like anti-Luthorian sentiments." Billy snorts. "He was an asshole when he was just a businessman, now he's got the power to do what he wants."
"Exactly, he's gutting the constitution and whatever laws he doesn't like because they might protect the people against his manipulations."
"Any other news?"
"The guy that killed his brother because he was on the computer skypeing their mother while she was away on business when he came up from the basement like a troll coming out of his den was shot and killed when he attacked. tortured, and killed students and employees at a high school. The prosecutor who refused to charge him because it was an accident, he didn't mean the kid to hit his head on an end table when he yanked him out of the chair and threw him across the room for annoying him by existing is stunned and horrified, he thought the kid just needed a second chance, being on trial and possibly charged would have destroyed his life. Now there's a hundred seventy-nine people dead and a hundred twenty-five more in critical condition and people are demanding to know why he wasn't charged in the first place."
"Because the prosecutor is a moron who thought being a bigger man and not trying the case would get him a higher office?" Josette suggests.
"Pretty much yeah, now his career is over." Billy snorts. "Couldn't happen to a nicer asshole, I had to interview him once and almost wanted to boil myself in bleach after the interview he was so slimy. He'd switch opinions in mid-sentence as long as it made him look good. Not charging got him a lot of publicity, none of it good." He looks at the garden. "How long until we plant again."
"I'd say another week, give the ground time to rest and you should have your first pouring piss from a boot rains by then."
"They can't be that bad, Josette." Michael chuckles.
"I was wrong." He says a week later after the ground has dried enough to plant. "We got a message from GD that they wanted to build an ark."
"Yeah, the crews and I were laughing our asses off when we heard that complaint." Josette sniggers. "We're used to them. They really get the crops off to a good start."
Alan Scott comes over. "They're at war, aren't they?" Michael asks.
"Nearly, the US is under severe sanctions for his actions against religions, he's thumbing his nose at the other countries and sending out attack squads." Michael and Josette shake their heads. "The next data burst should be news of war or he's taking over other countries."
"Josette, who grinds the wheat into flour?" Alan asks.
"The manufacturing satellite does some, the flour factory on the sorting planet does some, and so does our grist mill. They also grind corn for grits and cornmeal, I use them when I make bourbon."
"You have a distillery on Haven?"
"Yeah, I use it for non-alcoholic beers, bourbon, and vodka, the last two mostly for cooking. The communal kitchens get some and Vincent gets some after it's aged."
"How often do you make it?"
"Every few years or so, there's not that big of a demand."
"Wineries?" Rex asks.
"Two on Haven, the one I own and Alessandro's."
"We grow a few different varieties. There's the offworld harvest, the Haven harvest, we have some personal coffee plants on the island in the artificial satellite that orbits Haven, and I have some of the first planet. The beans are roasted and ground when they're purchased."
"We have a small harvest offplanet along with the hops for the beer we harvest every couple years or so. The twins love chocolate covered espresso beans. We have some of the machines in storage."
"What happens when you don't harvest an offworld site?"
"The ships send a message to the machines and they don't get planted. When we know we're going to need it, they send a message to the machines to plant. Those crops that are tree crops, the machines put in stasis so they don't go to waste." The others nod in satisfaction.
"When we opened the candy factory we added offworld growing areas for the sugarcane and wheat. It was too much for the manufacturing satellite to handle after the first year so we brought out a larger operation. They also handle the flour and sugarcane needs for the cracker and bread factories, though we also use some of the flour, sugar, and other stuff from the other Earth."
"How is it packaged?"
"40 pound bags, they weigh it out in smaller packages at the store from the bags that go in barrels when they're opened. You'd probably have a few pallets of flour after I take in the wheat for you. The sorting planet factory can handle it."
Michael, Alan, and Jay start talking among themselves.
"Best bet would be bring out an empty building to put the pallets in and bring out the bags as needed. Part of our flour is delivered to the pasta factory."
"Do the other planets grow wheat?"
"The fourth planet does, they're small farms for the most part, but not the others until we just started growing commercially. The other settlers on Haven grow wheat, either having it turned into flour themselves at the grist mill or selling it to the government and buying flour."
"We've got the containers, the bulk foods could go in there until we have a place for them." Michael says slowly. "We've got a lot of supplies in them anyway. Josette, how long did it take you to . . ."
"Years, we were bringing out stuff as we needed it." Josette says. "Still are in most cases. I've got hundreds of cargo containers on Atlantis from the Mars Colony and the next to last shipment from Earth was over 175,000 cargo containers. I took down two ships and they were both full."
"Mars colony?" Jay asks.
"Our Mars isn't like yours, it doesn't support life or have a population. Big business got their asses handed to them when they tried stealing Haven out from under us so many years ago. The girls were pregnant with the first babies born on Haven and if they got the girls to deliver in space they could claim our world. The council's precogs found out what was going on and stopped them and most of them went to prison, we ended up owning their properties on Earth as reparations. We kept them open on Earth so people wouldn't lose their jobs. Big business started bleating they wanted their own colony and settled on Mars. We tried to dissuade them and thought we'd succeeded when we showed them how hard starting a colony would be. But they persevered and I was hired to deliver the supplies and bring out a shipload of twenty men to start putting up a dome. The girls and I had come back down with some of the others to attend a quilting expo when I got the request to check on the colony since they'd lost radio contact a couple days before. A meteorite had punctured the ship. I brought the bodies back and NASA had me gather the supplies and take the ship back as a monument to the lost colony."
The others shake their heads and sigh. "Was that the end of it?"
"No, big business was talking another colony ...this time they'd learned from their lesson though and decided this time they'd select a world with an atmosphere. Of course they were doing this so they'd have a ready supply of raw materials when we'd had enough of big mouth bullshit in big business and refused to sell our metal to them. Congress asked them how they'd mine the metal, they were 'mine it? Can't we just pick it up off the ground?'." Josette says in a mocking tone.
"Oh Lord!" Jay sighs, rolling his eyes. "How stupid can people be?"
"Pretty damn stupid." Josette snorts. "These were the same people who thought we just froliced in the fields all day and reached up to pick a fruit when we hungered."
Cackles from the others. "Yeah. Just from picking our first garden and canning, drying, and preserving for winter even with Alice and Martha's help I know how damn hard farmers work. Going to be even worse when the cows start having babies and we're milking them."
"Josette, how do you make cream cheese?" Joan asks as they walk towards the houses.
"Let the milk sit a couple of day until the cream rises to the top and skim it off. Add something to make it curdle like lemon juice. Plop it into something like a cheesecloth bag and press out the whey liquids when it starts clumping. We don't make it on Haven since we have tons in stasis. Most of what they make commercially is low fat, ours would be higher in fat." Nods from the others.
"The dairy makes quite a bit, it's delivered to people in Town and Albatross. We make our own when the cows are producing along with cheese. Real butter is pale. . ." The older people nod. "We remember when oleo first came out and had those capsules you crushed to add to it. In little house they grated a carrot to add to the milk as it was churned."
"Yes, we tried that too. Most people decided they didn't care one way or the other about the color. Just like they don't care about not having pure white soap or paper except from the replicator or what's in stasis." Nods from the others.
"You'd want to add culture to the liquid after you've churned the butter, let it sit for about twelve hours and you've got good tasty buttermilk for drinking or baking. Just like you add culture to the original sourdough starter and add more flour when you take some out to bake." The others nod.
"Where's Ted?" Dr. McNider asks.
"Headed to Haven to use our planetarium and look through the files from NASA, what the ships brought back and from Atlantis on our trips back and forth from Earth to the planets, and what we've found here."
"He'll be in heaven." he chuckles. "Especially since it will be a while before his can come out. We're still looking for places. Thank you for finding the perfect spot for Pieter's home."
"I've got about three good spots picked out for his stuff. The file should be on the server." She goes looking and nods. "Yeah, it's hidden in the future projects section, along with the tv and radio stations and other stuff you plan on bringing out."
"How long after you settled on Haven did you put up the radio station?"
"About five years after we lost Earth, so I'd say a good twenty-five years after we settled. It was about five years after that before we started on the tv station, the fourth planet and Eureka brought up already existing radio and tv stations, we built new. Each building took about two years with all the special soundproofing they need."
Alan nods. "It took about three years to redo one of my stations working room by room. Do you have tv and movie libraries?"
"Yes, they were all sent up in the last few shipments from Earth since they'd have been destroyed otherwise. We have them in storage on the ships, using copies in the stations. Same with the tapes for the movie theater."
"Did you build that new?"
"No, that was one we'd built out by the school when we were still on Earth, same with the mall and bank. The idiots on the town council had a shit fit and fell in it about our school, trying to claim we were putting too much pressure on the post office. We got our mail delivered to the school from the local sorting area so they looked like idiots. They wanted us to fold our tents and go away, we ended up building a mailboxes, etc. store, a branch of the bank in town we used for the scholarship loans students had, the vice-president of the bank who dealt with the loans got the promotion to head that branch, a megastore, one of the dollar stores, the mall, the megaplex theater that was better than even the ones in Boston, a warehouse store, and a community college. The town looked like idiots when they whined that they were losing tax money and were shown they weren't because no businesses were moving out of town. They'd stopped businesses from coming into town for years since they wanted to keep it quaint, now everything was popping up outside of town and they were pouting. They'd wanted a warehouse store for years but were repeatedly told they were too small."
"The students or their families signed up for a loan, their room, board, books, and tuition was put on it, they got a debit card tied to the account, and a weekly allowance while school was in session. Once they graduated high school or university, the accounts rolled over if they'd applied for pre-admittance, they had twenty years of no interest to pay the loan off. If they couldn't pay it off in that time, they were charged ten percent interest monthly until it was paid off. More than a mortgage but less than a credit card. When the account was closed they got a printout of the program that told them how much money they should be putting towards their loan monthly to pay it off without interest. A lot of the students had jobs at the school starting their sophomore year and were paying down their loans before they left school."
"How many of the students had them?"
"A good seventy-five percent by the time I was a senior in high school, of course the school was a helluva lot smaller then. All the wards of the states were automatically enrolled, that way when the kids graduated it wasn't the state's problem anymore. When they were expelled they had to pay the entire amount in 90 days or be in default. They hated that, but they kept shoving the kids who were acting up and on their last chance on our school until my first semester of university when we go a lot of publicity and the school became the first choice for a lot of students, not the last chance."
"Where did you go?"
"University of Massachusetts, Boston. . .at least until it imploded under the administration's stupidity. David had introduced us to Dr. Blake as his godmother and we became part of GD's continuing education degree."
"Why University of Massachusetts?" Pieter asks. There's so much better universities around Boston.
"They had pre-law and pre-med, Boston University didn't and we couldn't have afforded Harvard even if we'd all been accepted. Anybody else we'd have had to pay more in tuition. Once we got in the continuing education system it didn't matter and we chose different schools for the most part. The twins got the same school, so did Alexander and Michael."
"The school imploded?" Dr. McNider chuckles.
"A week before our finals we started getting letters from the school, I supposedly had failed three tests in a class I wasn't in so I was on academic probation, Alan had got a letter saying that he'd tested positive for drugs and was losing his football scholarship even though the school didn't have a football team, Anna got a letter saying that she was 'disruptive' in the dorms, noise complaints. We also got letters saying their servers had been hacked and if we'd received letters we thought were false to bring them to the administration building. The letter was dated a week after an e-mail that had gone out, but it hadn't been mailed until several days after that. They tried to claim that it had been delayed in the mail but other letters were delivered a day after they were dated, even from the university."
"That's stupid." Alan sighs.
"Yeah, but that was the university, cover your ass and deny, deny, deny even if the proof done smacked up upside the head and called you a fool. The next day Abby got a letter saying she was being suspended for nudity in her dorm room. Michael got letters saying his student loan were in default and supposedly from his teacher claiming he had no artistic talent and they should find a new major, they were wasting his and the class' time. Now Alexander and Michael were award winning artists who'd made millions from their last show even back then."
"Oh jeez." Rick sighs.
"Yeah, we headed back to the office again so these letters could be shown. Another student had gotten a nasty letter supposedly from their teacher and blew the whistle. The news crews descended on the school and the boys were recognized, being interviewed. They tracked us down by the school records to the school and Principal Madison arranged for an interview with Diane Sawyer after dinner. The next day in class I got a note, this time it was my turn to have a delinquent student loan and so I couldn't take my finals. I was seventeen at the time."
"Too young to have a student loan even with a cosigner." Rex says. Josette nods. "Well, I had proof that I'd paid on my scholarship loan and they had until nine the next morning to show proof of a student loan to see if it was identity theft or just that moron hacker again. Ms. Sawyer was still at the school and being a vindictive little bitch I let her in on what happened, she ended up calling some other people and getting copies of the letters and a printout of the e-mail showing they knew what was going on before they claimed they did. The only mildly humorous thing that came of those couple of days was the boys teacher mea culpa. He was supposed to be an expert in modern art and hadn't recognized them." Everybody chuckles. "We ended up being interviewed for the morning shows, then got letters from the university saying we could take our finals but we couldn't come back since talking about the school was 'disruptive'. . ." Snorts of disgust and catcalls from the others. "Dr. Blake had already told us she had a short list of schools our credits would transfer to and was coming out in a few days with representatives to talk to us, this was just more fodder for the news media. We were worried that the hacker would change our grades."
"Yep. the teachers knew what was going on and if they had the time at our finals they gave us copies of our grades, if not we could dl them on the server or look at their doors. A couple of days later I was working in the school laundry and saw on the news where the administration in their infinite wisdom had the students demonstrating their false grades arrested for trespassing, then tried to have the news crews taping the protest arrested, sending the campus police out to attack them."
"Were the news crews on the school grounds?" Alan asks.
"Nope, they really got in trouble for that, the prosecutor announced there'd be no charges filed against the students, the campus police were the only ones still in jail, and the students and news crews said they'd be suing. The state said the campus was public property since they got money from the city and state and the students staying in dorms, fraternities, or sororities were paying money to live there and peaceful protest was protected under the law. Long story short, the state came in to take the campus over, the administration sent out the remaining campus police to attack them. They found out the administration had been embezzling money for years, we figure the hacker was somebody in the administration trying to cause enough trouble for it to be found out. The students real grades were given to them and we were enrolled in our new schools by Thanksgiving."
"Did GD pay off your scholarship loan?"
"Mine, the twins, and Alan's, the bank turned it into a credit card. That and meeting Doc when he came out to apologize for my not getting a scholarship through his fund even though I'd already been promised one and him seeing my mom's picture and finding out he was my grandfather was the only bright point of that whole couple of weeks. I'd started university as a junior since I had taken so many AP classes at school and had planned on applying for early admittance to grad school, plans changed when I enrolled at Montague and signed up for a dual degree in Library Science and Information Technology."
"What happened to the administration?"
"Convicted and spent years in prison, they'd made bail and were sending us harassing letters trying to get us to drop the lawsuit over what had happened, figuring if we dropped the lawsuit they'd have their jobs back and could go back to skimming off money, not realizing the state had taken the school over. Their bail was revoked when the morons tried hiring an undercover officer to kill us since we wouldn't drop the lawsuits."
"Wasn't there other students suing?" Joan asks, rolling her eyes.
"Yep, and the news crews. They just decided to target the eight of us for speaking out against them, repeatedly even with them telling us we couldn't. They were already being tailed since they'd caught the embezzling so it didn't go beyond the planning stages but they ended up in prison for years, working jobs with most of the money going to pay off the court cases and repay the school."
"How much money?"
"Millions over the years, they'd made false charges on student loans, made students sign up for meal programs, cut corners on supplies and maintenance, made charges on the school credit cards then returned the items pocketing the money. . ." The others shake their heads. "Yeah, the new administration had to do a lot of work when they took over, the cafeteria didn't pass a health inspection, there was mold growing in the basement and ventilation systems of some buildings thanks to the water leaks, walls needed to be scraped because of peeling paint in some of the rooms. Light bulbs never being replaced and bathrooms that never had toilet paper was small annoyances compared to that."
The others shake their heads. Michael checks the data burst, coming out shaking his head. "Luthor has come up with a new military unit composed of debutantes, celebrities, and pop stars."
"I don't know about your world but that would be one way to get rid of the 'how the hell can you survive without two brain cells to rub together' brigade." Josette snorts. "I know celebrities enlisted during WWII but they were actually helping the War effort then."
"Oh god yes," Dr. McNider sighs. "Are they going to be a fighting brigade or just cannon fodder? Because there's no way in Hell I'd give Kim Kardashian a rifle. She'd end up shooting somebody on her own side as she would shoot the enemy or herself."
"What's Bieber supposed to do, sing the enemy into giving up? Stomp off pouting? Or scare the enemy into leaving America alone with his bratty behavior?" Billy sighs.
"Britney Spears dropping her rifle and singing 'Oops, I did it again'?" Rick snorts. "Or Lindsay Lohan driving a tank drunk or stupid instead of her car? She wouldn't get out of Leavenworth in fifteen minutes."
"Debutantes screaming 'Oh my god, I broke a nail' when they're trying to teach them something and pouting because there's no booze, drugs, or video games?"
"'What do you mean I have to wear the same clothes as everybody else? I have to eat what everybody else gets, I have to do what you tell me? That's not fair'" Everybody in the room has full-body shudders before they settle down to talking about how the home renovations are coming along and what was next on their plans for the future. Including where they'd be storing vegetables over the winter.
The next months fly by and the renovations to the homes are complete, including some additions that they've wanted done for a while. Billy, Rick, Courtney, Freddy, Maxine, and Mary had been talking with both Eurekas about university classes at the others urging. Some of the people from Balaclava had come out to inspect the gardens and crops, talking with everybody about their plans for the next couple of years.
"How is it back there?"
"Pretty bad, Luthor is sending out assault teams to try to kidnap people he wants under his control, whether they're American or not or targeting people he wants eliminated. Including other world leaders. Then complaining when his attack squads are taken out with extreme prejudice. Those people that he gets back he deals with for failing him. He's declared war on everybody else for not bowing and kissing his ass. The rest of the world's still got to jump through the hoops and do it legally."
"Yeah, if the bad guys had to follow the rules the rest of the world did, they wouldn't be bad guys. Kinda hard to plan a secret attack when you have to give warning. Earth is in deep shit because it wasn't just the American super-heroes who left when they could, so did other countries heroes since they were trying to placate Luthor by throwing us under the bus. Now they're paying for their short-sightedness."
"That was stupid of them but we had the mutant registration act, there's other dimensions out there that took it a step further, trying to register super-humans and nearly causing a civil war or putting mutants in concentration camps."
"Power corrupts and absolute power . . ." Pieter says.
"Corrupts absolutely." Josette nods. "I spent a lot of time in court as council representative when people were suing who thought they were gods gift to humanity because they had a little money, either to overturn our charter so the planet was industrial, not agricultural, pouting because we'd told them no, they weren't coming to Haven, wanting shit we didn't need on Haven before they came up. . .'what? you don't have air conditioning? How can you live like that? You use a towel to dry your hair?' That's just wrongidy wrongidy wrongidy wrong wrong." Pat Dugan, Courtney's stepdad sniggers as he comes through. "No makeup? No nightclubs? You don't have malls? No paparazzi?" Dr. Cross chuckles this time. "Well we finally got the mall and they'd be horrified because after the new wore off it was like 'meh, who cares? Got other things we need to do'." Rick sniggers. "And of course nothing's open 24/7 so they couldn't have their people run out at two in the morning for something. Now they'd have to wait." Everybody in earshot cackles. "Then there were the stoners who tried to have our zero tolerance laws on drugs overturned since it was against their god-given right to get high and stupid as often as possible. One actually took out a joint and lit it in court to prove he was allowed to do whatever he wanted. He was stunned when the judge ordered him arrested."
"The drugs had fried what few brain cells he had." Courtney snorts. Everybody nods.
"Though the most idiotic had to be the people who wanted to outlaw clothing. It made people conform to a certain image, people should be able to live freely without the false identity pushed on them by others norms."
Everybody in earshot shudders. "Yeah, if they didn't die of exposure or accidents they'd kill each other because it wouldn't be supermodels walking around naked."
"Damn it, now I wanna know if it really will freeze solid and fall off." Courtney moans, covering her eyes.
"No, men shrink in the cold. . .they'd be sucked right back into the guys bodies during the first snow." Joan says, patting her on the shoulder as her lips twitch suspiciously. "It would be a damn effective form of birth control though. And men would learn why the toilet seat goes down." The women in earshot snigger.
"Clothing isn't just for protection, it's to keep us from having to look at each other all the time."
"How many other stupid lawsuits did you get?"
"Oh tons, people are allowed to make as big a fool of themselves as they want until the court has had enough. For the most part it was people suing to get our decisions overturned. They'd apply to come to Haven, get denied because they didn't have the skills we needed then turn around and sue while applying again. Because they truly believed that if they applied enough or sued enough we'd have to change our minds. Finally the judges told them if they applied again without having done something that would make them useful on Haven, they'd be fined. Then they were suing because 'it's our right, who are you to tell us we can't do what we want'.
Then we had a woman who sued because we didn't have no taxation without representation. When we went to court she lost because we don't have taxes, she then wanted to come up and protest police violence, the Pigs were obviously in it with the Man!. No taxes was the carrot to get people up then they were trapped and forced to work for minimum wages, when that was denied she brought out a whole list of things to protest... she got shown the door." Josette sighs. "Did you guys have the right reverend Al Sharpton?" Everybody sighs and counts to ten. "Ahhh, I see you did and he's as big an idiot as he was in our world, he first tried suing because we didn't have any black people on Haven."
"Principal Madison is black." Dr. Cross says dryly.
"Yeah, when that was pointed out he tried suing that we were going back to slavery, with po' black folks being forced to toil in the fields sunup to sundown for the Man or used for 'other' reasons by their Massahs! Then there was people who didn't like us working in the gardens sunup to sundown bringing in the harvest. Even if it was their own harvest."
"How are you going to eat otherwise?" Joan snorts. "It's pretty damn wasteful to leave it all to rot because you're lazy. Especially with all the hard work you put into growing it."
"Why do you garden, there's a store?" Josette says in a braindead too stupid to live voice.
"And where do you think the food in the store comes from?" Dr. Cross asks in a patient voice.
"Trucks bring it in of course." Courtney says in an equally brain-dead blonde voice, everybody chuckles.
"No trucks." Dr. McNider smiles.
"Ewww, how can you live like that? That's just . . .wrong." Mary smirks this time. "Though I'm sure some of the braindead patrol are learning that on their new worlds."
"Did you get people suing because you didn't buy cars?"
"Oh god yes, people on Earth couldn't believe we could live without cars. They'd send us information on all their vehicles, then when we said we weren't buying turning around and suing. We had to be buying from somebody, why not them? We finally had Vinnie do a documentary on Haven in the early days before people on Earth realized that we really didn't buy cars. We had somebody suing to build a subway on Haven, at that time we could walk from one side of town to the other in ten minutes. Hell, it only takes twenty minutes now and that's with all the new buildings we've added and in the middle of winter." Everybody rolls their eyes and head to their homes or the ship.
Josette looks around the area the next morning, they'd declared it a couple days of rest and strips off her clothes, diving off the pier into the water. Drying off after her swim she lays on the pier soaking up energy for a few hours.
Billy walks through the buildings with James Sanders, finding new walls going up after insulation had been checked and more added as needed. The windows had been checked and most of them had been replaced since they weren't energy efficient and had leaked like a sieve.
"Now, between the fake wood and the geothermal you're good for heat." He says as he sees the unit going into place. "Instead of cutting in ducts we're putting in standalone units." James brings up a list of where the units are going and Billy nods. "Once the mechanicals are in, you can start bringing in furniture and appliances. Have you looked into what you want?"
"Yes, and Josette is bringing it out when she brings out everything that needs to be installed in the kitchen and bathroom."
"Josette, do a lot of people make their own bread on Haven?" Courtney's Mom asks at a class about making their own bread.
"Yeah, even with the factory and bakery. It's easy enough to make the bread and let it rise overnight, then bake it the next day. Especially the people that don't live right in town. I usually make a couple loaves a week and not only do we live on the school grounds where we can eat at the dining hall, I can walk right to the bakery. There's just something about. . .I did this." The others nod. "I also make various batches of tortillas every couple months or so, putting them in the freezer to eat as needed. And making your own bread allows you to make what you want. I love flatbread, I'll make batches of it to freeze just like I do the tortillas."
"That too, both in frying pans, over the coals when we're cooking out, and in tandori grills. All depends on what I'm in a mood for. And sometimes what I think I want isn't what I end up making."
"Done that many times," Everybody laughs. "It proves you're human."
"And sometimes when you do eat what you wanted, it wasn't as satisfying as you thought it would be." The others nod. "The grass is always greener. . ."
"Over the septic tank to quote Erma Bombeck." Freddy snorts. Everybody laughs.
The second hay crop comes in a couple weeks later and it's under cover when the news comes that the other Earth at is at war.
"We had to expect it, Luthor's a megalomaniac sociopath." The others sigh and nod. "His goon squads took out anybody he ordered like the well-trained animals they were. He's emptying prisons and putting them and the homeless on the front lines to be killed. There's no unemployment now, everybody's working shifts in factories for the war effort. . .without pay as their 'patriotic duty'. Since he's not paying everybody, he's sitting pretty. Americans aren't, they're all working other jobs to pay their bills, buy food, and keep a roof over their head but who cares about the 'common' people?' He got what he wanted."
"Cynic in me says if they ever get rid of Luthor, people still wouldn't vote." Mary snorts. Nods from the others. "It's sad when more people vote for reality tv shows than they do in a national election."
"Is there any news on Mexico?"
"Yeah Luthor took that over completely, he took the drug cartels out with brutal efficiency and put his people in control of them. That way he's got an extra source of money."
"Are the communist countries staying apart?"
"Yes, they don't like the idea of the war. If they're attacked though it will be a different matter, we're expecting it to be a real world war since he's got countries that are proven terrorists on his side that he's using as attack forces." Dr. Cross says quietly.
"It's going to be a long messy war, either he'll be taken out or he'll end up taking over every government and declaring himself ruler of the world." He's too fucking vain to kill himself like Hitler did when the war turned against him."
"I'm seeing a final strike with nuclear weapons." Josette says quietly.
"So am I." Dr. McNider says. Everybody says a silent prayer for Earth before turning their attention back to the class.
"Josette, do you grow grapes other than for wine?" Billy asks.
"Oh yes, we keep the harvest in stasis so it doesn't go bad and we have them over the year. I've been toying with the idea of planting more vines on the first planet for eating. The grapes do well under a constant temperature and weather, which we have in abundance on the first planet."
"So it's like the tropics year-round?"
"Pretty much, temperatures in the high 90s, low hundreds with limited rainfall. Crops that can handle the climate thrive there." Josette puts up a picture of the planting beds, showing the plants full of growing plants with huge plastic tanks of water next to them.
"Gravity fed irrigation drip into the roots?" Dr. Cross asks.
"Yes, there's sensors in the beds that open the tanks to allow water into the roots, then flips it shut until it's needed again. That way they get the water they need and the tank lasts the entire growing season."
A few weeks later Josette's harvesting the commercial garden and crops with the others when the latest data burst comes in.
"What the fuck?" Billy asks. "Invading Los Angeles? I can understand Miami, it's on the right coast at least, you could make your way up to DC. All you're doing is hurting your own cause and giving Luthor ammunition to use against the war."
"And giving him allies among the communist countries. At least until he turned on them." Jay says, shaking his head.
"Are you taking wheat in every other harvest or yearly?" Josette asks when the bags are filled and put with the others.
"We probably should take the wheat in now." Dr. McNider says, looking at the pallets of wheat stacked ten to twelve bags high. "That gives us an idea of what we'll have in the way of flour."
Josette nods. "But you'll also have the flour and the wheat over the next couple of harvests. If you wait you just have one or the other. But it will probably be your next harvest before the flour's back."
"Should we think of bringing up a mill?"
"You could, but right now if you have it milled twice a year the flour factory can handle it along with the other jobs. The mill could also handle corn and other stuff." Josette and the others check the beans and peas drying on the racks, shelling them and putting them in bags until they're needed. They'd emptied a second container and Alexander had made shelves for the offworld harvest and they'd replicated containers for the root vegetables. The first container had areas marked for the wheat, corn, flour, beans, peas, and other bulk items. The shelves and bins could be moved into the building that was going up next year. Right now they were concentrating on getting their homes ready for winter. The first offworld harvest is delivered partway into the third growing season and Josette, Mary, and Courtney spend the day marking shelves and putting everything away.
"And we're expecting just as much the next time?" Courtney asks when they shut the container.
Josette nods. "And you'll be shocked at how quickly the shelves get empty over the winter. You think you'll never eat it all and it's all gone by spring. When you plant your own gardens you can make what you want." Courtney's mom nods. "The crops from the communal garden may look like a lot but you're really only getting one or two batches. And the offworld stuff is all basic stuff that everybody will eat and you can use as the basis for other meals."
"Josette, canning lids?"
"The replicator's got a cycle that sterilizes everything so we can reuse them. We don't do it all the time, the rubber gasket breaks down eventually, but then the recycling unit can turn them into their component parts to be remade."
"You've reused them?" Dr. Cross asks.
"Frequently, we don't reuse them back to back, but in the spring the lids and rings go through the sterilizing cycle, that makes the seal new again and keeps them from getting too nasty."
"I saw some damn rusty rings in some second-hand stores. When they had them." Billy says.
"And you can never find new rings. You see shelves of lids but not rings." Ma Hunkel says, nodding.
"Good, I'd heard you reused them and I'd worried."
"We made damn sure it was safe before we did and we always brought out new ones."
"We have tons in storage before we have to replicate new, I'm sure you do too."
"That's one of the major supplies that went out to the others worlds or the moon."
"How are they growing their food?"
"Mars has a growing area around the middle of their planet they called the blue zone, with J'Onn the only survivor they're growing some crops there and terraforming some of the other planets moons for more growing areas. They're also creating an area on the moon around the Watchtower."
"Are they safe?"
"Yes, NASA can't get into space anymore and the other countries are mothballing theirs to keep them from falling in Luthor's hands. The last thing they did before they shut everything down was shut down the international space station and bring the astronauts home. The American who'd been on the satellite applied for and received citizenship from England so Luthor couldn't get hold of him."
Josette sighs in relief. "I'd wondered."
"Yes, and as much as Luthor would have liked to. . .he can't claim the moon for his own personal property or even the United States'." Michael says. The databurst has them shaking their heads. "His own people?"
"Just goes to show what happens when you go for brawn and not brain."
There'd been another attack on Los Angeles, this time with deaths on the attackers sides. "I thought we were attacking London. . ." One of the survivors had whined before receiving medical attention. Luthor had swooped in and talked about misguided warriors taking out his enemies in an attempt to spin the situation in his favor. Not that anybody had believed him, least of all the citizens of Los Angeles cleaning up from the second attack on their city. . .and burying their dead.
"It would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic."
"And the knowledge that it's gonna get a helluva lot worse before it gets better." Freddy sighs. "We got a message from Eureka, they're working on alternating crops in the lab so they know when to start a field to harvest before the first frost."
Josette chuckles. While physically 9th planet Eureka is smaller than Archimedes Eureka since they'd added on over the years on Earth and linked up, they'd brought up outside homes and apartments since they'd brought up more people than Archimedes had, they'd saved as many friends as they could while coming up, including the domain of a dominatrix from Las Vegas and current and former members of crime lab crews from Miami and Las Vegas. Their homes had needed more work, and a crew from Sanders had headed off to work in Eureka since the bulk of the work that had needed done there was and they were at the stage of 'this will need to be done' as they go through the list of what they're going to be bringing out over the next few years. Lady Heather had been helping people deal with the change of moving offplanet thanks to Luthor taking over the country and the news of what's happening back on Earth as Luthor takes them to war in his bid to take over the planet.
"Well all I can say is I hope all the morons on Earth who believed Luthor's lies are happy now."
"I'm sure they're regretting their choices in whatever hell they're inhabiting. Especially if they're still alive."
Mary comes in with a basket of eggs from the chickens. Josette had made sure they got a selection of birds ranging in ages so they'd have eggs that year and the years to come. With only taking part of the eggs, they shouldn't need the nursery building and incubator they had plans on setting up in the next year. With the rolling coops, they'd be able to move the birds when the ground was cleared, saving on the need for corn and other feed. And when the weather turns cool, the birds can go in the barn while the coops are put up for the year. Since they're only light plastic sheeting and framework, they can fold for storage.
Fargo comes into the room where a group of people had been meeting. "Luthor found out about Eureka. We've been declared traitors and enemies of the state, to be shot if we ever return."
"How? I made sure all traces of the town was taken from the DoD's records." General Harris says.
"Thorne, she thought giving Luthor a ready source of scientists would put her in favor and she'd be put back in charge of Eureka again since she was so 'valuable' a commodity to him." everybody sneers. "She was stunned that we'd protect Eureka and leave since Luthor was so great a man." Rude snorts. "She's still rotting in prison and whining about how throwing us under the bus didn't get her out."
"Awww. pooooorrrrrr baby." Dr. Stark purrs. "Couldn't happen to a nicer person."
"Who was that?" Nick Stokes asks.
"Josette Takahawa, Clark's granddaughter from this dimension. She's been helping us get settled since she's been on the sixth planet for over 50 years now. She's one of the commercial growers on Haven along with the government and commercial farms the school owns. She's also a librarian." Dr. Cross says, watching her walk past.
"Having somebody who's gone through all this helps." Grissom says, looking up from the plans he'd been examining. "It keeps us from making stupid mistakes since not many of us have experience growing crops."
"And supplying our own power." Hodges says.
"Josette's world had a lot of problems with their electrical grid, they were used to making their own with solar panels or human powered."
"People riding exercise bikes or walking on treadmills that led to batteries." Josette says, coming over. "India started it when most of their infrastructure was lost during the war, then when so many states in the US didn't have power thanks to the plants going down people started doing it so they had a little money coming in and had some power."
"Plants going down?"
"In our case it was a overload, fried a lot of stuff at a power plant. Our school had backup generators but places that didn't or only had the small gasoline powered ones shut down when the company said it'd be about six weeks before the new machinery came in. Five weeks later we found out they'd never ordered the machinery, they didn't have the money for the machinery and had been trying to fix everything themselves. By that time the schools were having to start the school year over, because they'd be making up days after the new school year started."
"Oh lord," Greg Sanders says coming over to where they'd been talking. "That must have been a mess."
"Oh yes, we were the only school open for a hundred miles and god forbid if you got sick or hurt, you had to drive hours for medical assistance because . . ."
"Hospitals generally only have enough fuel for three days for their backup generators, by that time the power companies should have the power restored. . .unless it's a disaster and in that case help should have arrived by then."
"Same thing with the station."
"And we'd just got our power back after a storm that had knocked it out for a week, it hadn't even been a day so nobody had supplies. We finally got the power back permanently in July and it had gone out in January. Because once they got the machinery they found more damage they hadn't realized was there."
"Yeah, they'd get the power on for a couple minutes, it'd go off. They'd have it on for a few hours, it'd go out, they'd get it on for a couple days. . ."
"It'd go out." Hodges snorts.
"Yeah, but that last one was somebody driving too fast having to slam on his brakes for a light since they were back on and taking out a pole. We weren't too bad, we were out by Boston yeah, and the winters were bad but several states out west had their power out for over two years."
"That's when people started using alternative energy? Even with all the debris in your atmosphere?"
"Yes, the filtered light was still enough to run the solar panels. Power generation buildings popped up because people needed the extra energy and the jobs since so many businesses had shut down. The power plants were trying to come back up, but they ended up overloading other plants. By the time they got that all settled out it was several months before we were going to come up and a group of idiots who didn't like technology took out over 50 power plants around the country, including ours."
"Oh Lord, shouldn't those have been guarded?"
"Yeah, the governor wasn't happy. You couldn't enter a school but you could take out a power plant. With so many out, it took about a year to make enough parts to fix everything. They weren't happy because their plans didn't work, they figured if they took out enough critical plants, the whole grid would overload and take out that evil electricity everywhere."
"They didn't like electricity?"
"If they get rid of technology, everybody will be soooo much happier. After all, life was simpler back in the Little House days, wasn't it?" Everybody in earshot rolls their eyes.
"They had technology back then, horses and wagons. Trains. Ships. Axes, saws. They also had limited sanitation and diseases caused by the limited sanitation or bad food. High infant mortality and epidemics that killed thousands of people. Farm accidents."
"Yeah, they didn't stop to think about that. They ended up in prison for life, the leader of the group getting thousands of years for all the deaths."
"Did the filtered sunlight affect the growing seasons beyond the longer, harsher winters?"
"Yes, everybody who could grow at least one plant inside. . .did. Towns and cities of all sizes had at least one growing building. Even with all the deaths on Earth, the temperate areas couldn't grow all the food people needed. Replicated food doesn't have all the vitamins and minerals needed, people were beginning to get sick from it. So those people who didn't like growing buildings had to admit we needed them. We were in a stage of urban renewal with condemned buildings being torn down but people were stupid and selfish, they wanted what they wanted, not what was the best for everybody."
"Yeah, we saw a lot of that in Vegas." Greg smirks. "Usually some big roller trying to push his money down our throats."
"Yeah, that happens everywhere. Before we left Earth it was some moron on the City Council who tried to take the block Sue's store and the glass store and workshop was on by eminent domain. . . for a parking garage. Since there was tons of empty lots and empty buildings that could be torn down for one it didn't go anywhere. Finally the idiot had to admit he'd been paid to take out those businesses by somebody who wanted to open a business that sold rural work. . .fake stuff that might be exposed as fake by somebody who knew what they were doing. The idiot on the council was arrested trying to burn the buildings so he didn't have to give back the money he'd been fronted to get rid of the businesses."
"Oh lord, yeah that sounds like something they'd try in Vegas, except they'd be smuggling drugs in the fake stuff." Greg snorts. Horatio Caine nods. "Did anything else happen?"
"Yeah, they tried claiming the buildings were hazards. . ."
"Only to your pocketbooks." Dr. Cross laughs. They'd spent hours going through the stores, buying things for the others on the account they'd set up for them at the bank.
"Yeah, their own building inspector called them fucking liars over that. After we left. A guy had his brother in law on the Boston town council pass a law under the table saying they could shut down businesses without giving a reason. He owned a laundry and didn't like the idea that another commercial laundry in Boston had more business than he did. It wasn't fair that he had the hotel and hospital contracts, now they had a choice in who they could use."
Snorts and rude comments from the others. "They had a choice before, that's why they used the other guy. And didn't hospitals and hotels do their own laundry?"
"Yeah, when he found that out he pouted. People should have been flocking to him and they weren't. We used the other guy for the school's sheets and towels, with him closed students had to do their own as part of their laundry until we brought up his building and started washing them in town. He sued the town council and the other guy because he couldn't open his business again under the new laws, the other guy was scrambling trying to get something out of the mess because the court case was going to ruin him. He wanted to know why we wouldn't use him, he had four commercial washers. 'What, you have eight commercial washers and you outgrew those nearly twenty years ago? Well, I can do multiple loads. You have how many students? Well no, we can't handle that many loads. They pick up and deliver the laundry? And fold and package the sheets and towels? But that's not fair, don't you know who I am'?"
"The whiny little prick who's scrambling to cover his ass?"
"Yeah. If he'd spent a little money and improved his building, he would have made money but he didn't understand the first principle of business."
"You have to spend money to make money." Rex and Alan say in unison.
"Are both your laundries the same?"
"Aside from cosmetic changes over the years, yes. We brought up another copy a couple years ago when the first of the students started leaving the dorms after they finished their university classes since they wouldn't be doing their laundry at the school anymore. That way there's more machines and more jobs when the students left school. Aside from homes that came up, nobody has their own machines."
"So everybody uses them?"
"Yep, the former students who moved to the animal and sorting planets after we lost earth come to Town to do their shopping or just get away for a few hours drop their laundry off to be done."
"I can understand that." Hodges says. "As busy as Vegas was, that might be the only way you had clean clothes."
"Oh I know," Josette says, rolling her eyes. "Try a boarding school with 40,000 students all trying to have clean clothes for Christmas break. We had students working from the moment it open until it closed at night doing the laundry the others dropped off while the others were in class. The minute their finals were done and they had the books for the next semester, anybody who could go home was gone."
"Universities were the same way. Except they did their laundry at home." Dr. Cross chuckles.
"A few students still expected Mommy to magically appear and do their laundry and clean their rooms. The floor monitors didn't get involved unless there were complaints of smells. Then they had to clean their rooms and do their laundry, once the students were rooming together it wasn't as bad but there were still. . .well this is my side of the room and I'm allowed to be as messy as I want."
Everybody chortles. Josette shrugs. "Teenagers. Once they realize they're just making themselves miserable and people complain about a smell, they clean up after themselves. Sharing a bedroom with somebody and sharing a bathroom with three other people you quickly figure out you have to make concessions."
The third hay crop is cut and baled, going in the large buildings Josette had put up for them for the winter. They're already talking about their plans for the winter. Including checking the furnaces in all the buildings. Billy's subway station had been brought up, the building over it being completely rebuilt for him to live in with some of the supplies they'd brought up from Earth.
GD had been talking to their counterparts about the winters, trying to figure out how bad the winters would be.
"We were lucky in we'd already gotten experience in bad winters so we knew what to expect." Josette says, up on a roof she'd been inspecting. She looks down at both Dr. Starks, the one from Archimedes nodding vigorously.
"The data from Archimedes and the eleventh planet should give us an idea of what to expect."
"And you can make the changes you need after you get a winter in under your belt. We did."
"How much power does the solar panels give?"
"A good amount, depending on how long your days are. Except for GD, Clark's Headquarters, yours, and Pieter's house none of you have high energy needs. I know Josette hangs out her clothes as long as she can."
"Yeah, when the snow begins falling or they're freezing on the line instead of drying we start drying everything at the laundry. During the summer it's only the sheets and towels we dry because we run them through the folding machine." Josette looks at the clothes lines that had been strung up by every home, some full of clothes flapping in the light breeze.
"How often do you clean them?"
"Usually about once a month on Haven during the spring, summer, and fall unless we get an error message. During the winter it's usually once a week, more often if we get a bit of snow and are getting low power messages. During storms it's all bets are off, if you have extra batteries and some advance notice you charge the extras to switch out otherwise it's pedaling your ass off to charge the batteries to keep at least the heat going. Most people who do have solar panels still use candles since electric lights tend to drain the batteries. During the summer that's not a hardship when the batteries can be charged again in the morning."
"We generally check them once a week at GD year-round since we use so much energy."
"How do you have your backup generators set up?"
"Once there's no power coming in from the solar panels they switch to the batteries, once the batteries are drained you switch to the backup generators or recharge the batteries with exercise bikes." Josette says. "Those homes that don't have the backups start pedaling or crawl in their beds to stay warm until the storm passes and they can start clearing the panels." While not every building had the alternate energy to power generators, they had three or four places that had alternate energy sources where they could charge their batteries.
"That's what most of Eureka does, we have a power generation building to charge the batteries like Haven does, but everything that's non-essential shuts down once we find out a storm's coming, once the storm is officially there everything shuts down unless it's absolutely needed. On Haven, that's the school since so many people live there. Once the storm's passed crews come out to start clearing the solar panels and shovel the streets, the communal kitchen opens and starts making filling soups and stews for the crews. In Eureka a crew pitches in at Vincent's to do the same thing while we clear the streets and roads."
"Josette, when are you going to put the satellite in orbit?"
"A couple of weeks. Everything that needs to be done to get ready for winter is getting done and people are going to have the time to watch television or listen to music." Dr. Stark. . .both of them, nod. "Eureka's station started broadcasting again recently, though we're not picking up the signals here."
"You might need an amplifier or broadcast tower. We could pick up signals from Archimedes or the fourth planet in the buildings that were set up for cable or satellite television."
"I have the schematics, it's used by Josette and the others on the other continent as well as the outlying areas to get television and internet from the satellites. If you don't have one in your supplies Josette can make one on Macchu Picchu."
"Billy and Alan are talking about bringing out a studio or the movie theater next year. That and a library besides Eureka's. How do you handle the news?"
"Eureka has their newscasters, though it's only fifteen minutes twice a day now. Haven sends out messages on their PADDS. Priority messages, usually about the weather have a double beep when the messages are received, that means drop everything and read. Anything else like a new building going up people already know about because they talk."
A few months later Josette looks around in satisfaction with the work crews, all the work that needed to be done before winter has been completed. The last crops are in and the second offworld harvest on the shelves. A temporary building had gone up around the containers to keep everything from freezing over the winter. The flour and cornmeal was due to be delivered in a couple of days along with socks, scarves, hats, and gloves and they nod in satisfaction at their work before walking onto Macchu Picchu and flying back to Archimedes and Haven.
"Ma, why do you have boxes of old clothes set up in one of the containers?" Rick asks, looking at the list of supplies in various containers they still need to unpack.
"Patchwork quilts, I emptied all the second hand stores of clothes, figuring the old stuff that's still good can be worn in the fields. They do the same thing on Haven."
"Do we have baby supplies?" Dr. Cross asks.
"Tons of diapers and diaper covers. Baby and toddler clothes. Bottles. Strollers, high chairs, cribs, and cradles. Bed frames, mattresses, and box springs. The only thing I didn't stock up on was formula since the information we got said the sorting planet could make it."
He nods and they turn their attention back to the list they were making of what they'd need to bring out before winter.
"We stocked up before we left, and we're expecting hats, scarves, gloves, socks, and sweaters from the factory in Town. We can replicate warmer clothes if needed. Up to arctic gear but we shouldn't need it." Chuckles from everybody.
"Everybody's furnaces were looked at?"
"And whatever work we needed to make the homes energy efficient have been completed. The furnaces have been coming on in the morning already."
"Children? Winter is the good time to start thinking of the future."
"GD has gestation chambers and genetic banks, we do too as does Clark." Pieter says. "I'd start slow."
Everybody nods. Later that night Pieter calls the others to a meeting in his home, looking out the bank of windows at the sunset that's beginning to be as familiar as Earth's.
"Rick, Billy, Courtney, Kara. You know we've been talking about children once we settled on our new planet."
"Is it time now?"
"Yes, we're getting settled in for the winter and you'll be delivering early in the spring. Kara, Rick, are you two willing to become pregnant?"
"What about us?"
"You two are still young, give it a couple more years. We don't want the children too close together. Two years is a good age difference." Charles says. Pieter nods. "The others on Haven are at least that far apart."
Alan and Michael check the cisterns, putting the lid back on the tops before they walk into JSA headquarters.
"The cisterns ready for winter?"
"Empty, dry, and the filters cleaned." Alan nods. "The domes are already up for the tree crops." They go over the plans for the winter, looking over as Josette comes into the building.
"Delivering the flour and cornmeal?"
"And the order of hats, gloves, scarves, socks, and sweaters for the winter. Both the wool ones made from your fleeces and the woolease stuff from the factory." Josette waves a hand and boxes appear against the wall. "The rest is in the building."
"Thank you Josette, we'll start handing everything out in the morning."
Josette grins and heads off.
Rick kisses Pieter and Charles one morning before sliding into his seat at the table. "I'm late, I should have started my period last week."
"We'll draw blood for the pregnancy test after breakfast."
Dr. McNider draws blood after breakfast, Rick heading upstairs and cleaning his room before he walks the second floor hallway. Billy looks at him from the doorway of his room where he's staying a couple of days to go over degrees available through both GDs.
"Trying to figure out where we'd put the kids?"
"That's one of the additions, for when they're older. There's a nursery at the end of the hall for when they move out of Momma's room."
"How do Josette and the others handle it?"
"They have a nursery the kids stay in for the first couple of years, when they outgrow the cribs they graduate to toddler beds in another room. Then big boy or girl rooms, when they get older they have the option of separate rooms." Dr. Cross says. "They built the nursery for the first group of multiples, before that the kids lived in rooms near their mothers." He wraps his arms around Rick. "The blood work is running."
"Do we have a classroom set up for them?"
"Not yet, that can wait until they're a little older. We might end up putting up a building where *all* the kids can take their classes. In addition to the classes they're taking with the others they could take classes on their own from Eureka. We've got a few years to figure out the schooling."
Billy crawls into his bed at his building, if he's coming down with something he doesn't want to give it to Rick, Kara, or the babies. He's got a good stock of supplies in and he'll be all right. And with planning to be here for a few days nobody should be looking for him. So of course he wakes up a few hours later. . .or it might be longer, he's not really keeping track of the time to find Pieter sitting in a chair pulled up by his bed.
"You should have said something."
Billy pulls the covers over his head. Pieter chuckles and pulls them back. "Take these." he holds out two pills. "And drink this." He holds up a glass. Billy starts to sit up, then grabs for his arm.
"Yeah." Billy says, his eyes closed. The pills are pushed into his hand he throws them back, the glass presses against his lips and he begins to drink, making a face at the taste and tries to pull away but Pieter keeps the glass to his lips.
"No, it doesn't taste the best but it helps bring down fevers." 'and start rehydrating you' Pieter says as Billy makes numerous faces as the glass is emptied and he's settled back down in the bed. Pieter holds two fingers against his wrist and pops a thermometer into his ear.
"Was he awake?" Charles asks a few minutes later when he comes in with more medical supplies.
"Yes, I got two aspirin and a glass of fever reducer in him."
"The bloodwork came back as pneumonia."
Charles shakes his head.
"That's a blessing anyway. And unlike Josette, all Billy wants to do is be alone so he can rest."
"Josette was. . .and still is balls to the walls, full steam ahead." Charles chuckles. "She ignores illness just like she ignores hints to slow down until somebody sits on her."
The door opens and the dog that Billy had adopted from the shelter pets comes in and turns around three times on the rug at the foot of Billy's bed after looking up at Billy and getting petted by the two older men.
"Does Dustin have food and water?"
"Yes, he set the feeder for six weeks, figuring he'd either be better by then or somebody would come looking."
Billy wrinkles his nose at the slight smell of the chest rub but he's sore from the coughing he'd been doing and whatever Charles slathered on his chest and covered with a clear plastic film stopped the coughing in its tracks. His pajama top is buttoned up and the covers wrapped around him again as he goes back to sleep.
"How is he?"
"Stubborn." Pieter says. Michael turns a chuckle into a fake cough. "I can't possibly understand where he'd get it from." Both men give him looks and he laughs. "He's like most of us, just wants to be alone and miserable when he's not feeling good."
"We know." Michael laughs again and walks off.
Billy wakes up to find his hands and arms being massaged. He knows what's going on, he's seen Pieter doing this for the others when they get colds, accupressure points meant to help relieve chest congestion.
"Hello everybody." Charles and Pieter say as the green bubble dissolves showing their visitors. Beyond Sand there's Black Canary who pulls Pieter in for a hug and two Green Lanterns. She hugs Charles and the others, cooing at the babies. "They're beautiful." Pieter and Charles look at Dinah and nod silently. Pieter comes over and kisses her, Dinah relaxing into his embrace.
"Do you want one of your own?"
"Please, I never thought of being a mother before now but . . ." She looks around the buildings. "You've settling in well."
"We've had help with the others on the other planets. They've been doing this for decades."
Sand looks around the planet and then takes off his mask and holds his face to the sky.
"You know you're welcome to stay."
"Maybe, I had some things I needed to do before we left. But. . ." Alan nods and takes him and Dinah to the cemetery.
"Hi Mom, Dad, sorry it's been so long since I talked to you." Dinah says, kneeling between her parents graves as Sand stands between his aunt and Wes's.
"What are those buildings going up?"
"That one is our library, they're putting solar panels on the roof right now. These three here are going to be a growing building, a hydroponics unit, and a greenhouse for fruits and vegetables beyond what we can from the harvests over the winter. The last one is for our crops coming in and offworld harvests, last year we had them in two empty containers with a temporary building around it so nothing froze. This one has more room and heated over the winter. We've got a tv station going up nearby. Alan, Billy, and Billy's former boss at WHIZ are making plans for that, they hope to be in operation by the winter. We're planning a radio station by winter and a building for classes."
"Can you get stations?"
"Yes, there's tv stations on the fourth, sixth, and eighth planets that we can pick up with the satellites that link the planets. GD has their tv and radio stations that we can pick up over the air with antennas thanks to the broadcast tower." They take them to the hotel. "This is a copy of the hotel brought up to the fourth planet when they started getting the planet ready for settlement. It's all self-contained, solar panels and alternate energy handle all the power needs.
"This is nice," Soranik says the next day when they head to Haven. "Everything you might possibly need." Alan stops in a fabric store, the women and some men in there looking up. He puts pictures on the bulletin board. "Ma's sons."
"They're adorable, how is everybody handling being new parents . . ."
"When we've got grown kids, teenagers, or grandkids in some cases?" Jay chuckles. "It takes a bit to wrap your head around but we know you've all went through it."
Marilyn nods. "Agatha and Suzie both had babies in the gestation chambers at the same time after we'd settled on Haven. And with Josette popping out her triplets. . .Did she send in the last file?"
"Yes," Sue says, coming out of the back. "We're looking them over and working on the kits next week."
"Anyway, with Josette having her triplets, there's a rash of new babies in the gestation chambers. Though Maria and Elena are pregnant, they figure this is their last chance to be pregnant, they are nearly a hundred." Everybody in the building nods. "Though this means they'll be delivering by the end of the year."
"What is that?" Soranik asks, pointing at a building filled with tables and people eating.
"Communal kitchen, they fed people in the dorms before everybody got permanent housing. Now it's food before or after their jobs or when everybody's bringing in the crops. We've been thinking about using the hotel's restaurant as one when we're bringing in the harvests or canning, that way we don't have to rush around trying to get food on the table after we've been working all day."
One of the women going inside for her shift snorts. "Tell us when you're going to be harvesting, a group of us will come out and feed you." President Bartlett who'd been walking nearby nods. "With all the harvests coming in at different times we'll have enough people to handle both planets. Give us an idea of what you want, how many people we'll be feeding, and and food necessities beyond Dr. Cross being a vegetarian."
Jay, President Bartlett, and the woman walk inside.
"It nice to be able to sit outside at night without all the lights and noise of the city." Dinah says later that night after she's watched the suns set and the moons rise.
"As we've said, you can stay." Pieter pulls her into his lap and kisses her before taking her upstairs to her hotel room. They begin to strip and he takes her hand before leading her to the second bed in the room.
"Are you fertile?"
"Not for another week, earth time."
"Then we'll artificially inseminate you with mine and Charles sperm in a couple days. But until then. . . .Dinah, have you ever played with your ass sexually?" Dinah blushes and Pieter chuckles, taking the lube he'd stopped to replicate and playing with her ass and pussy. He's up to three fingers when he looks at her.
"Are you clean?"
"Yes, I've been alone for the last year and my last three bloodtests were all clean." A good question since as a superhero they were both exposed to blood. She moans as Pieter lines the head of his cock up with her stretched hole, pressing against it. The head of his cock pops through and he allows Dinah to get used to the intruder before he begins pushing further in that beautiful ass.
"Oh God Pieter, Yes." Dinah moans as Pieter sheathes himself in her body. It had been so long since she'd had anything but a toy or her fingers. She and Ollie had broken up again, this time possibly for good. Not that Ollie would have dreamed of playing with her ass like Pieter. He was more a hit it and forget it lover.
Dinah hisses as she holds Charles hand as Pieter slides the instrument into her vagina. Squirting the bulb he sends the mixture of his and Charles sperm into her body. According to all the tests this is her fertile period and the gods willing she'll become pregnant. She'd donated genetic material to the banks on the moon and had been brought out here, they'd be bringing back genetic samples from the others so they didn't end up interbreeding if they had to stay off Earth. And those who'd had attachments with the other team would be making more physical connections in the form of children.
"Will we be able to use the greenhouse over the winter?"
"Oh yes, with the alternate energy you'll have plenty of light and heat. It's just like how you grow inside. You can even put up a temporary building around them this winter."
"With staggering crops, we're going to have something going all winter."
Josette nods as she starts putting together the shelves for the seed trays as Michael starts working on the lights. "That's how they do them in Town and Albatross. We do it to a lesser extent in the dorm but ours is mostly everything coming in at once."
"Is this going to drain the batteries, solar panels, or alternate power source?" Billy asks as he puts the cover on the last tray of seeds.
"Oh no, the alternate power source can handle ten thousand times this amount of draw. They're used in spaceships and are continually making energy."
"Okay, this is probably a very dumb question, how are we handling blood?" Jay asks, coming over as they shut up the buildings.
"Everybody's blood types are listed in the server in case we need a transfusion due to illness or injury. We could donate blood and separate it into blood products that go into stasis. This way it's available for an emergency." Dr. Cross says.
"Which shouldn't happen, knock on wood." Rick raps his knuckles on Billy's head, getting a 'hey' from him and chuckles from the others.
Dr. McNider comes out of the JSA headquarters, walking over to the group and clapping Michael on the shoulder.
"Congratulations Daddy, you've got a baby in the chamber." Michael smiles. "If it's a girl she'll be Paula after her mother, if it's a boy Jacob Alexander." They'd exhumed friends and family members lost before they came, the computers taking genetic samples from the remains for future children before they were cremated or buried on their new planet.
"Better think of two names just in case." Michael nods.
Dr. McNider looks at the buildings in satisfaction. "Is everything done?"
"Yes, we've got the first set of seeds in the trays, A week or so they should be ready to transplant in the greenhouse. The hydroponics unit will start operation in a few months, that way we have something growing at all times."
Pieter crouches behind Dinah in the birthing room of his house, Charles crouching between her legs in the water. Dinah screams and collapses back against Pieter.
"Congratulations Mommy, it's a boy." Charles says, laying the baby on Dinah's chest before he's taken away to be weighed, measured, and examined. A diaper is put on him and he's laid in a bassinet as Pieter checks her. "The second baby's crowning." Charles takes his spot behind Dinah as she labors to deliver their second child.
The baby girl is laid on Dinah's chest as she delivers the afterbirth. Examined, she's moved to a bed to recover from the delivery, their son Lawrence Pieter Charles and daughter Dinah Alexandra laid in bassinets next to the bed as she sleeps.
Josette comes out after all the deliveries, smiling at the young toddlers and babies before starting a quick pickling class with Ma and somebody from Assryrian. Their youngest daughter is being admired by her father and her older brothers and sisters. The room is full as they learn the art of quick pickling in the refrigerator.
"How long until you can eat it?"
"A day or two, it lasts up to a month in the refrigerator, not that it usually does." Ma says. Josette cackles, nodding. "It's an alternative to the pickles in the barrels you have to wait for." Nods from the others. "And you can pickle other things."
"Lemons?" Joan asks.
Josette nods. "I make two different kinds." She finds the pictures and puts them on the screen. "The big ones I slice down the middle longway into quarters but don't go all the way through the end, then rub salt in them before popping them in the jars. The smaller lemons go whole in the salt. The skin is so thin that you just slice them."
"Do you make fish sauce or soy sauce?"
"No, we have tons in stasis and we use plenty of other spices." Dr. Cross nods in satisfaction. "We have been experimenting with fermenting bean curd paste though. We've been talking about salting the fish as an additional way of storing them, if we do we'll experiment with fish sauce then."
"Fish sauce?" Mary asks.
"A fragrant sauce created when you put anchovies in salt and let them ferment. A little goes a long way." Josette says. "It's primarily used in sauces." Dr. Cross nods.
That turns to what spices they use in cooking and exotic dishes Josette, Vincent, or some of the others have made.
Josette nods. "I don't personally make it, but a couple women in Albatross and some of them in Smallville on the fourth planet do. The recipes are on the server."
A beeping a few days after the others had left heralds the arrival of the others coming back, with some additions. Kyle hands over a box. "Genetic samples from the others for the database. Samples of offworld plants that they feel can help us with the terraforming, including information on growing for other desert worlds from other dimensions." J'Onn puts the box on the table and uploads the information on the server. Scientists immediately start copying that information to their terminals.
Batman nods in satisfaction as the new genetic samples are placed in the banks. Then looks at the babies in Dinah's arms as Soranik and Kyle check in with the guardians, their son in his green bassinet behind them.
"At you okay?"
"Sore, the twins weighed nearly six pounds each thanks to the clean air, good food, and plenty of exercise." Dinah's eyes grow dark as she remembers some of that 'exercise'.
Meanwhile on the link to OA the guardians look at the baby in the bassinet. "A male infant?"
"Yes, Jade had a set of twin girls, they are with her in the other dimension."
"Have you set up times to visit the others?"
"Yes, Black Canary had a boy and girl, we want the children to know their siblings."
The Guardian nods as they form a ship around themselves and fly through the watchtower into space. Dinah puts the babies down in floating cradles and lowers herself into a chair.
"How long has it been since you delivered?"
"Six weeks their time. I had my two month examination before I left."
"Their names for the records?" Batman asks.
"Lawrence Pieter Charles McNider Cross Lance and Dinah Alexandra Cross Lance McNider. They have an older brother and sister on the other planet."
"How are they handling the last names."
"A variation on how the twins are named, all three parents last names in varying order. They were DNA tested at birth, they do it on all the planets to determine paternity, the other planets want to make sure children are taken care of and in case of donated sperm or genetic material the kids don't get together." Nods from the others, they're doing the same. Lawrence makes a mewling sound in his bassinet and Dinah picks him up, throwing a blanket over her shoulder as she nurses.
"How many children do they have?"
"Fourteen with our three though the doctors were talking about letting Stargirl and Captain Marvel become pregnant when we were getting ready to leave. And Mr. Terrific had a baby in the gestation chamber. There were seventeen children under the age of two on the sixth planet, along with 2400 teenagers that would be graduating at the end of their year from high school and nearly twenty teens that were four years younger starting high school. And six younger children who were had turned seven while we were there. The older teens were the last of a bunch of orphans that had came over from another dimension as the first step of their colonization of the stars, or that was the spin they gave the media. The truth was without families, nobody cared if they left Earth." The others who'd been nearby sigh but nod. "Hippolyta, in my bag is letters from the others. There's also video of how they're settling in. Their planet has much longer days and years, they get in four harvests before winter."
The video is played, the others talking about what they see.
"Their garden is well set up, but so large? Unless its. . ."
"A communal garden for everybody?" Black Canary nods as she puts Lawrence down and picks up her baby girl to nurse. "Yes. Josette started the original garden before they arrived, in a year or so they plan on having their own gardens as they branch out into other foods. They're putting up growing buildings for fresh fruit and vegetables beyond what they can and grow offworld over the winter. Clark Savage was putting up a similar setup in his building, so was the doctors Mid-Nite."
"There's a number of offworld growing areas for the six occupied planets, think large gardens on a gigantic scale. They're off six months harvesting all the food but are only gone an hour thanks to the time difference. That food is canned, dried, or otherwise stored and passed out for the winter. They only have two offworld areas while the other planets that have larger populations have three."
"They have a small population growth, they don't want to overwhelm the planets and most people are staying in the areas they've settled in rather than spreading out to farm their own land. There's also the problem that a lot of their population is sterile thanks to radiation from the solar flares that ultimately wiped out their earth's population."
"Almost the total population of two of the worlds, they're former students from Josette's school. 90 to 95 percent of a third, depending on when they came up. Their new world and most of the inhabitants of the other two worlds can have children, depending on their age and if they came up after the radiation. Those who are too old or are in same-sex relationships use the gestation chambers too. The other worlds have had children over the years in the chambers but only about fifty over thirty years. With the gestation chambers and bodies adapting to the longer years, they're waiting to have children."
"Fourth planet has Stark International, yes from the Iron Man movies, and Wayne Industries." Dinah's getting her daughter settled in the bassinet and adjusting herself in her shirt so she doesn't see Batman's look. "Or I should say both Wayne Industries since they brought out the second after their Earth was lost, they've been integrating stuff for years. Fifth planet is mostly scientific, their nickname is the animal planet since they started out as a way to save endangered wildlife. Though they started growing commercially there within the last couple of years. Sixth planet is primarily agricultural but has limited small factories, the seventh planet has more small factories, some open year round while others are opened when they're needed then shut down. They've started growing there commercially a few years ago, before then it was just the factories and recycling. The eighth planet is their GD, between them, the two Wayne Industries, and Stark they hire a good percentage of the recent graduates when they finish their university degrees."
"What's the populations?"
"I'm not sure about the fourth planet, a lot of is small farms but the fifth planet is around seventeen thousand inhabitants, the sixth planet is under eight thousand and will fall to under four thousand when the last of the students finish their university classes and leave the school. The seventh planet is over 23,000 people while the eighth has maybe fifteen thousand among GD, the other two towns they brought up over the years, and the independent groups that have settled there."
"So around eighty thousand people on six planets?"
Dinah nods. "I know on Earth that might not be a sustainable population but it works for them."
"They've learned from Earth's mistakes. We've got less, so do the colonies. You said they've been settled about fifty years?"
Dinah nods as a familiar noise makes her get up and reach for the diaper bag. Hippolyta takes one of the babies and they change them, cleaning them, and putting them in clean clothes before settling them back in the bassinets.
"About twenty-five thousand students, support staff from the orphanages, and others came out about twenty years ago for them otherwise the population would be smaller."
"That's a bit of people to take in."
"Not as bad as the 40,000 students that were in school when they lost Earth. Some of them might have come back to the planets, but not all of them."
The others nod. "That would have been a large number of people to integrate into their society, for all that they'd already been there."
Dinah nods. "They were in temporary barracks like housing for several years until they brought up apartment buildings. Being in temporary housing for so long though allowed them to pay down their scholarship loans and put money away for permanent housing. It took I think two or three multi-building apartment complexes on each of the planets before all the students were out of temporary housing."
"How did they assign housing?"
"Lottery, everybody knew they'd have places eventually so if they didn't get in this time they had another chance."
Josette settles on the pier of Aztec with the scans of the ninth planet, looking for a good spot to set up at least a house. The others had insisted that she make a home on the planet beyond the ships.
"Clark would beat you." Azzie says at one prospect. She knows Josette would be diving off the cliff into the water.
"All of them."
Josette sniggers and puts that in a definite 'oh yeah' category.
"Josette." Dr. Cross says in a stern voice.
Josette gives him a look, ruined by grabbing a kleenex and sneezing. Blowing her nose she puts it in the replicator's recycling unit and washes her hands.
"A cold will not kill you, you just wish it would." Everybody in earshot sniggers and nods. "I just want to be alone to whine, piss, bitch, and moan in peace until I annoy myself." More sniggers. "Once that's out of my system I'll be fine."
"You'd get better sooner in bed." He says, pointing the direction of the infirmary.
Josette snorts. "For a cold?" She waves a hand. "Humanity has still not cured the common cold, no matter what dimension I've been in. What cannot be cured. . ."
"Must be endured. Yes I know. But it can be endured in bed."
Josette shakes her head, not in a 'no' gesture but in the 'get that fucking idea out of my head' gesture. "You okay?" Dr. McNider asks.
"Yeah, David would be trying to talk us into more babies with that last line." Dr. McNider's lips twitch as the others in earshot laugh.