Day 118: Wrong wrong wrong

Day 118:

I do not wish to discuss how wrong I was about the zombies and the skeletons and the spiders. Suffice it to say that I lived, and I’ll be spending the next few days recovering from my injuries in my cave.

line sketch of a left leg from the knee to the foot. A  wide red gash runs from just below the knee on the shin to the ankle.
Ow. Dammit.

Day 117: Back to digging

Day 117:

The eastern entrance that I uncovered is part of a ravine. Not a deep one, not like some of the ones I found near the house. This one’s just deep enough that it’s level with the part of the cavern I was in.

So far, it seems like maybe I’ve outrun the monsters, too. I’ve come across one skeleton, and to be honest I can’t tell if it came from above or below. Is it possible that I was just dropped in a particularly dangerous area and the rest of the planet is safe?

It’s probably too much to hope. I’m not leaving my sword home.

line sketch. On the left, an underground chamber attaches to another underground chamber, which then drills right out of the side of a cliff. The cliff doesn't appear to have a bottom. Across from the cliff is another cliff, making this a ravine.
Feels like something out of a cartoon.

Day 116: Peace

Day 116:

Decided to take a day off for a change. I’m sore and tired and achy, all to be expected since I’ve been digging like crazy.

I think I’m maybe a third of the way to the big mountain. It’s hard to tell. The mountain slides in and out of the mist  both day and night, and totally depends on the weather if I can see it.

Sometimes I think I see snow on top.

Today I did little things, like carve wooden pegs to use on frames to hold leather skins, and roast some fresh meat, and just not rush.

It was a good day.

line sketch of a pegboard - a flat board with wooden dowels sticking out of it at regular intervals, meant to be hung on the wall to hang skins from.
A few dozen of these and I can get to tanning chicken hides.
Never thought I’d say that.

Day 115: Feathers and fluff

Day 115:

Dug this morning for a while, but ran out of some pretty critical supplies (my shovel broke) and had to go back to my home to make another one.

When I was done that, I started drawing up plans for a feather bed. The duckens’ feathers are pretty soft when they’re young, but they’re only young for about three days. The adults’ feathers are great for arrow fletching but many of them are thick and stuff and not the kinds of things you want to roll over into the small of your back in the middle of the night.

I’m thinking a bag in a bag. The inner bag being almost the full size of the bed and stuffed with adult feathers. The outer bag will have to be just slightly larger, but then filled with the soft downy feathers.

Or I could make this even easier and put the soft downy feathers on a big pillow-like cover on the bag full of adult feathers. That would be even faster.

As for the bags themselves, leather continues to be really the only bag-making materials I have. I’ve gotten better at my attempts at tanning hides. It took me a little while to realize that boiling the brains was the secret to getting them to tan the hides.  But I hate to kill an entire cow just for a bed and some steaks, so if I have to kill small ducken anyway, I think I’ll probably use them to make the leather to make the bed.

This is going to be one heck of a patchwork mattress.

line sketch 1: a bag of feathers inside a bag of down, each bag being made of leather.
when the fluff shifts this is going to be annoying
line sketch 2: a thick mattress filled with adult feathers topped with a thinner mattress made of downy feathers. A pillow-top, if you will. Both bags are made of leather once again.
much easier to actually do

Day 114: The germ of a theory

Day 114:

So back in the day, before we’d gotten terraforming space right, we got it wrong a lot.

A LOT.

Humans would take an ordinary dead planet (there are thousands of those in the galaxy alone) and load it with machinery that could change the air temperature and the environment to be hospitable to oxygen-breathing life. They’d literally create all the things life needed – air and water vapor and rain and in some cases mountains and oceans  using these fission/fusion creation things that some physicist came up with and, over the course of about 10 years, do what only ten billion years and a couple dozen comets could’ve done naturally.

They’d seed the planets with genetically modified organisms specifically designed to live in that host environment. Sometimes they started with microorganisms and we ended up a few dozen years of human-enhanced evolution later with sentient arachnid-like creatures and bipedal cows and really really angry corvids, all of whom are now members of the League of Planets, I might add.

Or they’d start with just  a few dozen fully-developed animals and put them on the planet as “starter farms” for communities that had outgrown their current habitations.

Some of the experimental planets were government research and exploration funded, but many were self-funded communities or corporations. Some were attempts to get away from it all. Some were attempts to start over and “do humanity right this time”. And some were giant land-grabs with the intention of mining resources or producing crops or animals or the like.

Thing is, most of these early experiments were unlivable. Some went geologically unstable. Others were ravaged by a mistake in the genetics or a disease no one had anticipated. A few were even destroyed because existing life, undetected by the scouting teams, took even stronger root in better living conditions and killed the transplants.

Anyway, all this to say that I got back from my long-ass digging expedition the past few days and suddenly realized all my cows have the exact same markings.

Exact. Same.

I compared them to the wild cows out in the field and they have the exact same markings too.

Now, there’s a lot of ways that two cows can mix up some cow DNA and they will never get a perfect match for either parent. There’s even been studies on how cloning might accomplish the goals, but even when an animal is cloned there’s no guarantee that environmental stuff isn’t going to impact coloration.

So the only way I know of that every cow on this planet could look identical is if some very heavy duty genetic manipulation was taking place. It certainly doesn’t align with any of the biodiversity research or population research that we learned in school. And it’s not like these cows need the coloration to blend into their environment like, say zebras (although even zebras are all different if I remember correctly.) They’re brown cows on green fields.

I knew this planet was odd because the animals explode. I knew it had some kind of history because I keep pulling shoes out of the river when I fish. But now I think I might be living on a failed terraforming experiment.

I don’t know what that means except that I’m almost out of light for writing tonight, so I’m going to sleep on it.

Three watercolor cows all identical in their markings
copy-paste cows