New Falkland Islands, Islas de Ligera
Santiago Pueblo wrinkles his nose trying to dissuade what his tired mind thinks is some unseen fly from landing. He continues doing so for several moments before he finally opens his eyes to see what is going on. As he does so, he realizes that a stray blade of grass had been picked up in the early morning breeze and had been fluttering in his face.
Shaking his head, Santiago chuckles and he looks out over the ocean that is spread out before him like a vast holiday meal.
It was all his for as far as he could see.
Or at least that’s what he had been told when he joined the first expedition to Islas de Ligera to colonize the planet. Only time would tell if the Dawn royals would make good on their promises to the first colonists. Such generous tracts of land and sea seemed like something they could easily take away, especially when they were the ones financing so much of the endeavors.
Maybe a hundred meters from the coastline of Santiago’s little island, a few large fish leap from the water. A cloud of trumpet fish seem to skip across the gentle waves like well thrown stones.
Santiago shakes his head once more as he considers how much care went into transporting these fish, and so many other species of fish, wildlife, and plants all this way. The cost of shipping all of his worldly belongings just a couple of lightyears took two years of saving, to think that the Dawns could send such massive colony ships the 2.6 or so million lightyears all the way to Islas de Ligera seemed impossible.
And yet they managed to do it.
And they allowed whoever wanted a free ticket to come along for the ride.
Sure, there were plenty of rules and stipulations, but it was still a generous offer when they were the ones paying for it all.
‘Keep an eye out for anything,’ was the ominous warning that was repeated to colonists time and time again on the voyage over here.
Looking out to the horizon, Santiago smiles and lets out a lighthearted chuckle, “Keep ‘n eye ou’ for what? There ain’t ‘nythin’ out ‘ere!”
Shaking his head, Santiago walks over to a nearby tree, and he drops back to the ground so he can watch the deep red sun rise over the horizon. There were warnings about this particular star being on its last leg, but the experts assured Santiago and all the other colonists who settled this system that there were still at least ten thousand years left to the star’s lifespan, and probably a lot more. Regardless of how much time was left, Santiago and the other colonists who settled this system were promised one hundred years of more or less unfettered rights to their claims. After that, it all depended on how the red sun looked to the scientists. If they thought it would last longer, then Santiago knew that his family would be allowed to remain for much more time. And, if the sun looked like it would give out, then the Dawn royals assured him that another location would be provided far from here.
The thoughts about his family make Santiago smile, and he looks over his shoulder at the home that he had picked out back on Gethsemane, the Dawn clan’s seat of power. This particular home was built on stilts, and Santiago felt like any building built near any body of water belonged on stilts. Having grown up on a swampy planet, he learned just how destructive water could be and how much tides could rise and fall. With that, and the knowledge of the planet that he was heading to in mind, Santiago made his decision, and he can’t help but feel proud of it to this day.
Sure, there had yet to be any flooding, but Santiago knew that he’d be ready should it ever come.
Stilling looking toward his home, Santiago looks to the window of his own bedroom, where he had left his wife, Grace, the night before. Smirking, he shakes his head yet again as he thinks about how territorial the woman got of the bed every time that she was a few months from giving birth. Rather than fight it, Santiago simply surrendered his spot and slept outside. He enjoyed the warm, salty breeze from the ocean. The semi-sweet scent that the early morning winds brought in from far away always energized him and made him feel like a new man.
Taking a deep breath, Santiago savors the smell of the breeze. He had chosen this particular island to be his own for many reasons; the main reason was that it was on the windward side of the New Falkland Archipelago. Having grown up downwind of a swamp, Santiago felt like he needed to be guaranteed fresh air for the rest of his days. Thus far, this planet had more than provided that.
Santiago’s eyes drop from where his wife sleeps to the window below, where his three-year-old son, Quin, and six-year-old daughter, Sariah, shared a room. Ever since Quin had been born, Sariah hadn’t let him out of her sight. Smiling, Santiago reminds himself that Quin was in very good hands should anything ever happen to him.
Life is good, Santiago continues smiling as he turns back to the waves that are moving a lot like the seas of tall grasses in the fields that stood between the home he grew up in and the swamps.
Santiago had always enjoyed watching the grasses sway in the early morning breeze back then, even though the breeze brought the smell of rot in from the swamps. His mother had always scolded him for leaving windows and doors open and letting the stink in as he watched, but he couldn’t help it. Every sunrise deserved to be watched. Every aspect of the earl morning held a beauty that few others ever got to see.
Looking to the horizon once more, Santiago can see the reddish-brown bruises and golden ribbons that paint the sky in the final moments before the sun finally broke over the horizon. Something Santiago always enjoyed was the suddenness of the sun rising. It just seemed so impossible that the sun, which seemed to take hours and hours to come close to the horizon could then pop up and be fully exposed in the span of ten minutes. Its teasing light would wake Santiago up at least an hour before most every sunrise as it illuminated the world below and chased away the stars that teased of a world anywhere other than here.
“Home,” Santiago whispers to himself, echoing the very first word that came to his mind when he first arrived on this island.
He knew that he had never been here before. He knew that the odds were against any living creature every touching the orangish-white sands of his beaches since the dawn of time. There was nothing about this place that could have possibly seemed like home to anyone else.
And yet, it called to Santiago.
Even in the arial photos called to him. Those photos were taken by unmanned drones from the spreadships that the Dawn royals had sent out ahead of the colonists to terraform planets. The photos themselves had no soul behind them to direct the cameras to things that would speak to people, as pictures taken by living and breathing photographers would, and yet, the pictures of this island spoke to Santiago’s soul.
The sun suddenly begins peeking out from the deep, deep blue ocean on the horizon. The sight of such a dark sun rising over such a dark sea always made Santiago shudder.
Behind him, the island’s sole bird begins chirping as the sun awakens it. It wasn’t often that the bird slept in this long, and Santiago can’t help but feel even more blessed that he was the only living creature here who had been able to watch the sun’s first moments in this new day.
“New days, new discoveries,” Santiago whispers to himself as he rises alongside the sun. Today, he would explore the undersea caves that he had stumbled upon yesterday with his underwater drone. New planets held plenty of secrets, and the Dawn royals paid handsomely for the best of these discoveries.
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