Tales: Darik's Arrival at Sarin

Published on July 28th, 2023 13:50

Sarin's garden, seed of many others

Whistle softly, pastel pulses dance

Shout and arbors wave you quiet.

Apprentices, mycelia of the thousand world-gardens

Come to study systems of gene and machine.

Darik's pack was filled with the essentials for an apprentice's journey: snacks from home, a small tab for notes and entertainment, and a few sentimental non-organic cosmetics. They shook a little when they thought too hard about being selected in the apprenticeship lottery. Sarin was the top world-garden in six jumps for bioengineering apprenticeships, and they had only registered to walk that path a few months ago. Whatever had possessed the algorithm to select a novice gardener whose entire occupational background was a few cycles in early childhood care and education and two in accounting was beyond them.

They closed their pack's clasps, taking some joy in the snap as they clicked securely into place. Taking a deep breath, they slung it onto their back and pushed out of their small cabin. Darik fumbled their way to the docking tendril connecting the tiny slip ship to Sarin's Orbital, stopping briefly to thank Paico, the pilot, for making this journey. The pilot, in zer turn, nodded appreciation and signed their own thanks for the companionship.

I always appreciate having another organic to talk to, ze laughed. Ship is great company, but he has no taste... The ship's lights dimmed and shifted slightly warmer briefly before returning to the pilot's preferred settings for this time of day; what Darik recognized as a polite laugh.

I have heard that joke 308 times; once for each passenger journey we have traveled. Perhaps one day you will study the comedy courses I curated? Ship replied.

Consistency is a virtue! Paico retorted, as Darik suppressed a smile. Good luck by the way! Their flight schedule shows a few slivers between descending passenger flights; so you shouldn't be stuck in space for much longer.

Darik noted a reminder to write them both a thank-you letter once settled and let the smile break through, Thank you! I can't wait to feel the tug of a world beneath my feet again.

Sarin Orbital was, with one exception, like any other key orbital in a highly developed system. A mix of tourists, temporary-resident staff, and a core contingent of lifers who (for no reason Darik could fathom) chose to make their home outside the comfort of a gravity well and magnetosphere. Unlike any orbital Darik had seen before, there were local plants everywhere. Most orbitals catered to the spacers who facilitated interplanetary commerce or plied the slip-lanes, but here was a station

A quick check confirmed that the next down-well trip was two slivers away. Enough time to walk from the slip-ward docks to the well-ward ones, as well as stop for a bite. Darik filtered their tab's map to no-market, vegan restaurants and found one that looked like it carried local, regional and terran fare; so they didn't have to decide how adventurous of an eater they wanted to be before they got a chance to smell it.

As Darik walked up the food stall they'd found, they dropped their privacy preferences from do not disturb (their preferred default) to assistance appreciated. Within about thirty seconds, a tall, thin woman pushed aside the curtain separating the kitchen from the counter. Helllllllooooooo she trilled as she saw Darik. Oh! An off-worlder! And not a tourist! How strange, how strange... Tell me, young one, what brings you to Sarin? Are you working the gardens?

Darik was slightly taken aback by the barrage of questions. Uhh, yes. I... I just arrived. On an apprenticeship.

The woman's eyes lit up. Oh! An apprenticeship! So you'll be taking our garden home with you then? Her eyes took in Darik. A bit young, no?

Darik's nod started, halted, and started again. Yes, ma'am. I mean, no ma'am; I mean, yes I am a bit young but no I'm not stealing your garden! Darik's face flushed.

The woman's face turned serious. Oh! I'm so sorry! I did not mean to imply! We have a saying here: 'Whoever tends our world-garden takes a piece of it home with them.' Her smile flashed back, To care is to love, after all, and we never truly leave behind what we love.

Darik's cheeks cooled slightly, Oh, well; then yes. I hope to learn to care for your garden; and I promise to carry it with me wherever I go.

Well said, young one. I am Saul. Saul matched Darik's courteous tone. How may I be of assistance?

I am Darik. Can you help me find a meal before the downwell next sliver?

I'll do you one better! Saul's eyes sparkled as she swept aside the curtain. That's more than enough time to learn to make arjung. Consider it your first step in your apprenticeship!