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Source Melchizedek.0294
β Hyi, 3rd Planet
Ascension 00h 25m 45.07037s
Declination –77° 15′ 15.2860″
Distance 24.37ly
Equinox J2000.0 SOL
Year 3782, QEC adjusted

[Autotranslator enabled...]

Stephanie Janssen, Specialist First-class
:::
Hey ya'll, Stephanie here. I just have to tell you this place is
so amazing! There's this slippery fungus mound nearby that smells
exactly like root beer when you slide across it. Shoot, let me
back up, though. There's so much to catch you up on.

First off, I'm on planet 3, not 4 where most of the Melchi crew is
stationed. Eva and I and a handful of others are doing survey work
to prep for phase two of the system seeding. If you haven't been
following along, that means that we get to live in the lush beauty
of this wilderness while the rest of the poor saps have to scratch
out a home on the dust bowl next door. Sucks, huh? They're so busy
these days they probably haven't even noticed there's nothing
outside their windows.

But here, oh my! I'm not sure how best to classify this stuff
that's all around. I guess if you imagine a sugary-glass that's
shaped in all sorts of polyhedrons, but squishy and that leans to
the side like it's feeling a little sick, that's the closest thing
to trees. They're totally alive too! I mean, technically speaking
and all. They don't talk or anything, but they react and
reproduce-ish. I mean, have you ever done that golden ratio
rectangle thing where you divide the rectangle into a square and
the little rectangle left over is the same as the bigger
rectangle, but, like, exactly that special proportion smaller?
Well, these things work sort of like that, but really big and in
three dimensions. They're all sort of transluscent so it's been
briliant watching the divisions develop inside.

Unfortunately for us, there's no familiar proteins at work here
and our bodies can't interface with the alien poly-plants (oh,
that's a fun name) in the normal chompy-chomp way. So, we're still
on ship rations. The good news is, since there's no chemical
crossover, the life on this planet should be unaffected by our
seeding. We can move in and share the land and everything will
work out fine. (Why does that sound ominous now that I've said it
out loud?)

In addition to the poly-plants there's the root beer squishes, the
cliffs of neverending screams (more on them in a minute),
bucket-rain, and oh oh oh... the golden caves. That last one is
literally what it sounds like. I have no idea how this planet came
to be or what sort of weird star cooked it up, but our camp is
just a few clicks away from this massive cave network and the
entire thing is just covered in gold. Like, AU. Gold gold. I swear
it's the most beautiful and creepy thing ever. Brewer's the
closest thing to a geologist that we've got and he's totally and
completely stumped. Caves form from underground water and there's
absolutely none of that nearby. Inside the cave looks just like
the ones back home in Virginia, except if they were sprayed and
covered in gold. If we weren't a thousand years and many lifetimes
of travel away, we could pack this place up, head home, and be
some sort of fantasticly rich big-shots back home. Assuming gold
is still worth a lot back home. Assuming there's still a back home
out there. Speaking of which, have any of you out there been in
touch with Earth lately?

Sorry, I'm back. Oh, I guess you didn't know I was gone for
a while since this is a message log and not a recording or
anything. Duh. Anyway, that was Jerome stopping by. He's here on
three with us, by the way. I think it's been good for him. Mission
critical living and the whole loss of Doctor Idjani is still
hitting him hard. He needed the break. And now because of that
break I can inform the universe from my personal experience that
Jerome Somerset Pasani is absolute shit at cards. Haha! Seriously,
he can't bluff at all. It's so cute.

But more on that another time. Where was I? Endless screaming!

So a while back Eva comes stomping into my hab with these giant
boots in her hand and a goofy grin on her face as she declares
we're going for a walk. When she gets excited she talks really
fast and her accent gets thick, so I'm not really sure what she
said after that, but it was something about flower power and
getting all dirty in the dirt. To be frank, I... may have thought
she was finally making a pass.

So we tromp up these hills past the familiar poly-plant forests
until we start getting really high up. For some reason the
poly-plants tend to settle in valleys where they're shaded from
the strong winds, and those winds can be really strong up high.
The planet's rotation is pretty fierce and the isolated water
bodies make the air currents a bit unpredictable. We're always
wearing wind protection when we're away from hub, but for this
trip Eva brought some heavy duty gear. We're all suited up,
sweating our way higher and higher until there's nothing but dirt
and sexy sciency ladies in the vacinity. And here again I may have
thought something was happening that wasn't happening, but no
matter because I was saved from my horrible embarrasement by the
gut-wrenching screams of some soul being torn to shreds in
barbaric torture. Or, that's what it sounded like!

Eva gives one look my way then starts sprinting (well, more like
how a giraffe "sprints", based on how we have to move in the
suits) toward the cliffs ahead. I'm right behind her and we come
skidding to the edge, dropping down on all fours so we don't take
a dive into the nethers. We pop our heads beyond and look down and
hear a truely horrific cocophony of death. Imagine that everyone
you know were crammed around you in a giant circle having their
toenails torn out. I'm still freaking over it.

Of course there were no horrible dismembered bodies below. There
were these glassy growths all along the cliff-face undulating with
the wind. They're vaguely mollusk-like in their behavior and grow
and expand on the surfaces like barnacles. They're also alive and
as best we can guess, they cut into the air to produce sound.
We're not sure if it's communication on purpose, some threat
signal, something for sex, no clue. It is totally freaky and so
amazingly cool. The universe is this massive thing that goes on
basically forever, but in all that space there's only so many
sounds that can be made.

So the cliffs of neverending screams wasn't the best mood-setter
for my outting with Eva, even if that were her intention. But the
trip wasn't a total loss. Just as it dawned on us that we weren't
witnessing an interstellar genicide she turned to me and mouthed
over the screams, "We're fucking flowers." I don't have the first
clue what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's the nicest thing
anyone has ever said to me.
.