Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Dawn on Jefferson, Chapter 26: A Rain of Blobs Pulled the Church Down

We stopped in a stand of creepy bushes.  

Creepy bushes are really creepy - dur, captain obvious! - and live in a symbiotic relationship with a weird critter we called the spiny creeper.  It looks a lot like if a turtle replaced its shell with a spines like a hedgehog.  The fruit of the creepy bushes is full of baby spiny creepers.  The fruit keeps the spiny creepers warm and protected.  The spiny creepers then 'hatch' by eating their way out of the fruit.  However, they each have a seed they carry inside themselves.  They grow up, breed and the seed sprouts.  The creepy bush wraps its tendrils around each of the unborn spiny creepers and forms a fruit around them.  Sometimes there's only one fruit.  Sometimes there are several.  If a spiny creeper is strong, it will last several mating seasons and there were definitely be multiple fruit.  However, after a while, the spiny creeper will get overwhelmed by the creepy bush and die.  Most of the time, predators kill the spiny creeper before it reaches old age and the creepy bush kills the critter.  The fruit is deadly to eat for anyone other than the spiny creeper.  This means the babies are protected when a predator attacks and eats the spiny creeper.  The plant wins because the seeds will get dispersed around the entire habitat of the spiny creeper and stay protected until the spiny creeper dies.

The whole thing is just creepy though: you have a plant that's in you and waiting for you to die or will kill you if you don't have the decency to get killed soon enough.  Evil plant.  Alien world.

The reason we hid inside the stand of creepy bushes was NOT to creep us out.  Rather, the fruit of the plant with all those baby spiny creepers in them give off heat to keep the babies warm.  That heat might be, we hoped, enough to hide us while we rested.  We hoped.

As we rested and panted, we looked at one another.  It would be dark soon.  Being out in the dark was bad for multiple reasons.  

1.  Our parents would flip out.  Really flip out.  Sneaking out at night was a big no-no and we had JUST been trusted to stay out of town on our own.  We were completely and utterly destroying their trust.  

2.  Yoats would be out.  And we would look like so much lunch.  or late night snack as it might be.

3.  Our parents would flip out.

4.  If we went back, we might not get caught (ha!) and could at least pretend we were not doing dastardly things in the wild of Jefferson.  Ok, a bit overly dramatic, but the situation calls for it: we are hunting for someone in chameleon camo in powered armor when we're 12.  deal.  Or if we did get caught, at least then we could claim we were just curious and please don't hurt us innocent little kids!  *bats eyes*looks cute and helpless*

An aside, I don't think that would work, but, hey, it might be worth a try.

5.  Our parents would flip out.

Well, what do you think we did?


As we debated what to do, it occurred to me exactly where to look for our stealthy prey and I shared the idea.

The best place to hide on Jefferson near Shadwell was at the old Church of the Sky Father Christ.  

Wait?!  Why would there be an OLD church on a planet only settled a few decades ago?!  Well, therein lies a story.

When Jefferson was first settled, when Monticello was a new settlement, a church on Earther America wanted to find a world where they could build a community based on their religion and beliefs.  Its a story as old as time.  America had some roots in that sort of story for that matter.  The church fathers and mothers led an expedition to Jefferson.  They were brave and smart.  They were bold.  Shadwell didn't exist yet and they found a place that seemed to be a good idea for a safe place for a settlement.  They found an island in a small cove that was deep on one side and when the tides were low, would allow for a causeway to crossed to the mainland.  The Church mothers and fathers returned to Earth while they left bots to build the settlement and especially the Church.  Build they did.  In the center of the now decaying town, is the Church.  The Church of the Sky Father Christ was amazing.  Dad had taken me once and we walked through and gawked.  It was based on a church in Berkeley, California near the university.  The tidal island seemed the safest place...but while they did know taxitos were dangerous, they didn't know they were building in the middle of a breeding ground for one of their primary predators: the loogie hockers.

Loogers, as we like to call them, are small amphibious critters that have some parallels with our frogs.  They don't hop like a frog does.  What makes them dangerous though is they spit.  Yes, spit.  They spit very poisonous globs.  These fly through the air very fast to shoot bugs right out of the air.  The looger would then waddle over and get the glob.  They use small sprays of globs for taxitos and can do larger ones for other Jefflife bugs.  They could even kill small animals.  During mating season, loogers would swarm and often get so hungry as to hunt larger animals.  Yoats and other larger animals can be killed by a hail of unintentionally cooperating loogers spitting their globs of poison.  And, yes, the desperately hungry loogers will then eat the large animal.  It is anything but pretty.  If I were to tell you there were frogs that eat like piranhas when starving and kill by spitting on you, you might laugh, Earther, but believe me, it's not nearly as funny as you think.

The first settlers for the Church of the Sky Father Christ came and moved into their already built houses with lots of fountains and...the settlers were swarmed.  This was the loogers' breeding grounds and the church members' robots had built lots and lots of places with clean water.  The settlers showed up and that very night, the loogers thought the settlers were yummy looking.  So they spit allllll over the settlers since the settlers had the decency to deliver themselves like very rare steaks for the looger breeding party!  The settlers all died.  Their fellow parishioners came and collected their bodies and left...and left the first ruins on Jefferson.

In a way, the settlers did get their revenge: eating human is very poisonous for Jefflife critters.  Most of the loogers there ended up dying.

The church and its environs, with its slowly decaying glory were sad, but very, very beautiful.

It was also the perfect place to hide.

If you can handle the taxitos.

And, even more importantly, the loogers.

It was only a ten kilometer hike, too.

So, what do you think we did?


We did.

No comments: