VII, 14, Early Morning
I keep forgetting about the slightly quicker rotation of venus. I suppose I had only gotten about five hours of sleep when I hear Callie knocking at my door. I got up, stumbled over to the door and opened it to find a bright, cheery Callie, fully suited, standing in the hallway. I turned on the light.
"Ready, Arty?" I actually welcomed her cheery voice in spite of my mood.
"Yeah, in a few minutes. Is anyone else up, do you know?" I peered out into the hallway. I did not see anyone.
"I don't think so. Far as I can tell, you, me, and Grace are the only ones awake. Y'know, I think that you and I are the only ones who ever get up this early." She made her way into the room and took out from under her arm a small bundle which she put on the table. She opened the bundle, "All right, now, I got us some spare filter cubes for our masks, spare cartridges for our flame pistols, power cells for the crystal detectors, and," she produced a small box of food tablets and held it up like she was in a commercial, "breakfast, lunch, and dinner." She returned the box to the bundle and closed it up again. She then looked up from the table, sniffed the air, and suddenly became overcome with a look of repugnance. She looked at Grace and then at me, "I'm wondering if that's coming from you, Grace, or the two of you put together."
"I'm sorry?" I was not sure what she was saying; I still was not fully awake.
"This whole room smells like a jungle. I'm surprised I didn't notice it before." Grace had gotten up at this time and was making her way over to her uniform. Callie picked up the folded hide suit, took Grace by the hand, and took her toward the door. I grabbed Callie's arm.
"Where are you going?"
"The showers; she needs one. You could use one, too," not wishing to argue with Callie, I let her go past me and into the hallway with Grace in tow.
"All right, but keep quiet," I called after her.
"You know me, Arty."
"That's what I'm afraid of."
"I said I'll meet you in the rover garage," I hoped she had not heard what I had actually said. They disappeared around a corner and I made my way to the men's showers. I was back in seven minutes and saw that Grace and Callie had not returned yet. I slipped back into my leather suit and checked the filter cube in my mask. Having confirmed everything to be in working order, I gathered up my things, as well as Callie's bundle of supplies, turned off the light, locked the door behind me, and made my way to the rover garage. After placing the supplies in the rear compartment of the rover, I went over to the supply room and got a small air tent for us. The air tent would allow us to sit around without the aid of our masks. I returned to the garage, stowed the tent, signed out the rover, and waited for Callie and Grace. After only a minute the two arrived and took their places in the rover. Grace sat in the seat next to me and Callie took the back seat. I reached under Grace's seat and produced the spare mask for her to use. Once she had it on and we were all strapped in, I started up the rover and we were on our way.
We crossed the ravine without incident and came very near the location where I had found Grace and the crystal. I parked the rover where I had parked it before and unstrapped myself.
"Where are you going?" Callie asked.
"This is where I found Grace. I want to make sure that those two lizards I frightened away yesterday aren't back with reinforcements. I'll be right back." I took out my flame pistol and machete as I walked around the rover to the altar in the clearing. I found that the vegetation I had cut away yesterday had grown back. When I finally came to the clearing, I saw that not only were the lizards gone, but that the lizard I had killed the day before was already covered with moss and swarming with insects. Pondering if the lizards were simply lying in wait, I chanced a walk around the clearing. Of course, I kept my flame pistol poised the whole time I did this. I had walked the entire circumfrence of the clearing and saw that my suspicions of ambush were proven wrong. Satisfied, I went back to the rover and assured Callie and Grace that it would be safe to continue through that area and make our way to the plateau.