It was a wonderful morning. Neal and Laura were heading off on an expedition today. They would be exploring a new part of the continent, hoping to find some resources that would help the colony grow. There were a great many needs. The Endeavour had brought a lot of raw materials from Earth but there was only finite space, and they were going to have to start finding what they needed here on Xinju before too long. They had already been harvesting local trees for the construction of buildings, but there were many other materials to be found. Neal was especially interested in the idea of finding some more indigenous edible plant life.
Laura walked into the bedroom from the shower, wrapped in a towel. He smiled at the sight of her. “Morning Honey.” He stepped forward and kissed her.
“Hey.” She smiled at him and then began fumbling about for clothes.
Neal took a moment to savour the love he was feeling. Some days he just couldn’t quite believe that she’d married him.
So far their relationship hadn’t caused any problems with their work. Some people might have expected that working so closely with his new wife would get old quickly, and possibly cause some friction, but so far their times together were still joyous – whether they were working of just relaxing. Neal and Laura seemed to have found a way to balance being colleagues and lovers at the same time. He was aware that in the future once the novelty wore off they might have some issues to work through, but they’d face them when the time came.
Neal was pulled from his revery by a knock at the door. “I’ll get that, it’s probably Toledo telling us he’s reconsidered and wants to come with us.”
He walked through the main living area of their cabin and opened the front door. To his surprise, Constable Gill was standing on the other side.
“Constable, can I help you with something?”
“I’m afraid your lab was broken into last night Doc.”
Neal frowned. “Why would anyone do that? Did they take anything?”
“We think they were after drugs. They tried to break into your samples cabinet – where you keep your plant catalogue.”
Neal shook his head. “I had really hoped that we were past that sort of thing. You know, new beginnings and all.”
“I’m afraid there are still junkies out there eager for a quick fix.”
“Did you catch them?
“One got away but the other is in the hospital. She injured herself trying to escape.”
“Is she okay?”
“Yeah, the doctor gave her a blood transfusion last night. She’s going to be fine. She’s just resting at the moment. There’s no need to cancel your trip today, I just thought you should know what happened.”
“Understood. Thanks for telling me Constable.”
“Try not to think too much about it. You go and have fun exploring or whatever it is you do. Your lab will be all cleaned up when you get back.”
* * *Cameron Boyd took a deep breath and stepped back to admire his handiwork. The wooden frame of the building was starting to come together. The wall he’d been working on was almost finished. He would need some help to lift it soon.
“I never knew you had it in you Cameron.”
Boyd turned to see Anderson Bell stepping out of the forest.
“Anderson. You’re just in time to help me lift.
“You’ve finished your public duties already I see.”
“Aye, they’ve given me leave to build my own house. It’s coming along nicely don’t you think. I seem to be developing quite a skill.”
“I never thought I’d see the day when Lieutenant Boyd, Ship’s chaplain, would be working with his hands like this.”
Boyd shrugged. “I did a little research on the computer library. It’s not so difficult once you understand the principles.”
Anderson surveyed the shell of the building. “Looks more like a church than a house to me.”
“Ah, you noticed that.”
“The idea is to build a house in order to make room in the accommodation dorms for new colonists.”
“I know. I’m going to have a small living space up in the top floor at the back of the building.”
“So this is what you gave up your military career for then? You’re going to plant a church on the planet.”
“That’s pretty much it old friend.”
Bell shook his head. “I still don’t understand this Cameron. You had an important job on the Endeavour, taking care of the spiritual needs of the crew. Those people, they were important to you, they were your mission field.”
“I know Anderson. Sometimes I can’t quite understand it myself either. I just know that right now, this here is where I’m meant to be.”
“Oh well. I couldn’t talk you out of it before. I’m not going to do so now.”
“Not a chance. So, did you come here just to gossip or you going to help me lift this wall?”
“Actually, I came to talk.”
“I’ve always got a listening ear for you. What’s on your mind?”
Bell let out a long sigh. “I’ve just learned something, and I’m not sure how to process it.”
“It is, and it kind of involves you too.”
Bell walked toward Boyd’s pile of timber and picked up a stud. “Let’s cut this and get it in place so I can help you lift. It’s easier to talk while we work.”
Boyd smiled. “You got it old friend.”