Zoe had done all she could about the passengers’ problem. The group had taken Rehab and Aysha with them as they repacked their belongings for the trek to their homesteads. Faoud had also gone to the local brickyard to pickup tools for making adobe for their first homes. Jayne was with him, since they would need the mule for the heavy load.
River was off exploring the small town, hoping to find an ice cream or candy store.
Zoe decide to stretch her legs and perhaps find a quiet spot for a beer. Maybe under a tree, because even shipborn sometimes needed fresh air and sunshine.
The town had only one street, so Zoe headed down it towards a haze of green on the horizon. She reckoned the bush was only one or two klicks along. She passed a metal sign that pointed her to other settlements,  Sweet Sally, Joe Batt’s Arm , and Elbow.
Sweet Sally turned out to be little more than a strip mall with a tidy whorehouse, and a grocery store with a lunch counter. They had evidently been there for some while, since the house and the grocery were concrete rather than adobe and prosperity allowed the  brothel to build a porch of expensive wood. There was also a popup store based around a tanker ship and a tent.
The grocery had some concrete tables set out under flowering bushes with roses just coming into blossom. Zoe ordered a Tsing Tao and a BLT toasted on multigrain bread, which the countergirl promised to bring outside. She snagged the chilled beer bottle herself
Sitting under the rose hedge, she gazed about at the pleasant green yard, allowing the neatly landscaped gardens to soothe her. The clerk brought her sandwich, flanked with a side of kimchi, a condiment which Zoe heartily disliked.
The sandwich was perfect. Although as their jobs became more regular and less dangerous, fresh provisions were more common on Serenity, there was still a pleasure in eating something freshly made out of doors in a garden. She savoured each bite, leaving the spicy pickled cabbage untouched and closed her eyes while she sipped her beer.
The voice was oddly familiar. She opened her eyes to see a brown face with a halo of white hair. She stared at the stocky green eyed man.
“Theseus? What in the seven hells…!”
“Dà jiě jie ! What have you been up to these past, tiān nǎ, twenty years?|
“War. POW camp right after, found Alcibides on Boros and he helped us buy a ship, went into the family business with my sergeant  out here on the Rim, married, widowed, daughter, met up with Perse on Persephone, got respectable. Mostly. You?”
“Spent the war transporting for the Independents. Never got caught and put away some cash. Afterward, I bought this equipment and we’ve been knocking about the Heinlein system for about a decade. Me and Mrs. Alleyne got two children, twins! And that’s enough for Mrs. A.”
“Lord you look good!” in unison.
Zoe swept her much smaller brother into her arms and swung him around.
Theseus joined Zoe in the garden after calling into his porta-store with his location.
Over a Tsing Tao, he said,” So you married your sergeant?”
“No, after we was released; he’s from Shadow, so he had some reparation money. I decided it was practically my duty to make sure he didn’t drink it all and kill his own self after avoidin’ death at Alliance hands. So I was his second on the bank account the Reparations set up and showed him how we’s make a good livin’ in transport. And cock a snook at the Alliance too.
“Then I found Alcibides and he sold Mal a Firefly. Proper deathtrap but that’s Al.”
“Even one of those boats costs some real coin.”
“Mal don’t understand money, ask me. He got a quarter mill platinum. Not sure he ever knew how much he paid for Serenity. Al and I handled it for him. He was pretty broke up.”
“ Serenity?”
“Yeah, we was there. Survived. Just us two out of our regiment. Mal named the boat.”
“Still, a quarter mill.”
“Shadow. His ma had a big ranch. From what he says, I think he was gypped on the cash out.”
“Signed up at 18? Straight from mummy’s arms to soldierin’”
“He’s had plenty of experience since then. Good soldier, mustered out with a field promotion to captain. I got out as his lieutenant, so I did okay for cash.”
“Plus his…”
“Mmmm. That was part of my thinkin’ at first. But we got on good and what else was there for me? So I stayed. Then I married our pilot.”
“Not the sargeant?”
“Not our relationship.”
“Juéduì no! He married the mechanic and they have two kids. They’re off with my Hope right now.”
“Hope Alleyne, nice name.”
“Hope Washburne- her daddy’s name was Hoban Washburne.”
“I know that name! Crazy guy- met him just after the war, bad mustache and a passion for dinosaurs?”
“Made his shave the lip weasel. Hope has the dinos : she teethed on them.”
“And he let her?”
“No, he died before she was born. Miranda.”
“He was there?”
We all were.”
Theseus signaled the counter clerk for another round. They saw the drinks. They drank the drinks.
The breeze was sweet with the scent of roses. Somewhere there were cows lowing.

Again. There would be no petroleum, or its derivatives on terraformed worlds.
Theseus is selling bio-diesel and has a portable diesel making machine which he flies from small moon to small moon . He is not in touch with Perse. There is some animosity from childhood. He is Zoe’s favourite brother.
First homes are soddies or local adobe. Followed by fired brick or local stone and imported concrete. Later buildings use locally produced concrete.
Newest buildings in established worlds would be made of wood- a luxury since forest are all new growth. 25 years to harvest size.


About femmefan1946

Retired professional writer and editor. Nominated for an Aurora Award for work on CAN-CON 2014, which concentrates on introducing new and aspiring writers and artists to agents, editors and publishers.
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