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Arrival

Fore Deck

Manfred VII

North Atlantic Ocean

Friday, October 30th, 2015, 9:50 am

 

 

      They finally reached the French coast and headed up the Gironde Estuary to the Garonne River.  The river was built up on both sides by the shipping industry.  It looked similar to the US ports they had already seen.  Still, except for Aaron and Sarah, none of the colonists had been to France before. They all brought chairs up to the deck to see the continent they would come to consider home.  All the couples sat together: Sarah and Aaron, Jared and Michelle, and Keith and Carmen.  Kara sat by herself, unaffected by her seclusion.  The ship headed to the port of Bordeaux to dock at the Bassens terminal. 

      The bridges they went under were mostly tall suspension bridges that made them think of the Golden Gate Bridge that had stood years ago over the San Francisco Bay.  The Golden Gate Bridge had collapsed during an earthquake in 2006.  With California being so poor and the US economy collapsing, no effort had been made to rebuild the bridge.  Almost 10 years later, much of the bridge remained as a harsh reminder of the economic turmoil of the United States.

      The ship went slowly up the river to the pier they were to dock at, all the colonists had already packed and said there good byes to the captain and crew.  The captain gave them all small nautical compasses, each set in a wooden box.  The ship crawled into its resting place.  The crew, with help from workers on the pier, quickly tied the ship to the pier.  A few minutes later, huge mechanical ramps were set into place and the passengers were ready to disembark.  They got into the trucks that they had already packed and drove off the Manfred VII and onto the French pier.  Aaron, Sarah, and Kara were in the lead truck.  Jared, Michelle, Carmen, and Keith were in the second truck, which also had the time machine.

      The drive off the pier and onto the streets was slow.  People, vehicles, and cargo were strewn about the road.  When they got onto the French road, they followed signs for the E70-N10 highway.  They took the E70-N10 until they reached the E70-N89.  They followed E70-N89 for almost four hours.  When they were about to reach the next road on their journey they stopped at a café to have lunch. 

      The café was small and lightly decorated.  The most impressive decorations were the flower arrangements throughout the café.  Aaron recommended croque-monsieur, a ham and cheese sandwich cooked after being dipped in egg.  Everybody but Sarah tried it.  Instead of a croque-monsieur, Sarah had bouillabaisse, a fish soup.

      The teens all liked the sandwich.      Carmen said, “Wow, it’s just a ham and cheese sandwich.”

      Keith said, “But it’s got egg, too.  It blends the cheese and ham together.”

      Jared said, “I like it.  It’s like a grilled cheese with a few extras.”

      Michelle made a face as if it was disgusting.  “I guess it’s OK, but it’s so greasy.  I’m getting queasy just looking at it.”  She added in a whisper so as not to offend the wait-staff, “I thought the French were supposed to be renowned for their cooking!”

      Sarah said, “It’s a fairly common food.  It’s to France what the cheeseburger is to the United States. Fast food is OK, but I’ll take bouillabaisse any day instead!”

      When they finished eating Keith said, “Let’s get one to go,” then in a whisper, “so we can scan it!”

      “Good idea.  I’ll get some bouillabaisse too,” said Sarah.

      They got the two orders to go, then paid for their meals and left.  As soon as they got to the trucks, they took the food to the back of the one with the builders and scanned them.  The area was empty, and they did the scans in the truck, so they had no concern that anybody would see it.

      A few hours driving and they finally arrived at the construction site.  At the site, everybody who did not already know each other was quickly acquainted.  Since the site was doing family tents, Keith and Kara were in the same tent as their parents.  Carmen had a tent for herself because Samuel was unaware of the adoption.  She refused to take the tent and put all her stuff in with her family.  The Coleman family was not expected for a few more days, but their tent had also been set up. This left two tents empty. 

      Samuel was glad to have Aaron there.  Samuel was a natural leader but was not fond of the burden and responsibility that came with leadership of large groups.  Small teams, like the hired help being used to survey, he could handle.  As soon as everybody was situated, Samuel and Aaron sat down alone to talk about the project.

      Aaron started, “How’s everything going?  Have you been able to access the money OK?”

      Samuel nodded, “We’re on schedule.  We can break ground in a few days.  The Swiss accounts were easy to access.  Everything has been cheap thus far.  I’m worried about the rock, though.  This area is very rocky, and it’ll be a pain to dig into.  It could delay us months or possibly even years.”

      “That’s unacceptable.  We can use builders to cut through the rocks.  We just need to make sure nobody outside of the colony sees us do it.”

      “Are you sure they will work for such a big job?  How much can they handle, and how are they powered?”

      “They can handle more then I could have ever dreamed.  It will do the job in less time then if we were working in a desert.  Also, they are self-powered.”

      Samuel asked, “Self-powered? How can that be?”

      Aaron shrugged, “I’m not really sure.  Jared explained it, and I pretended to understand.  I guess it makes energy the same way it makes objects.”

      “Are they safe?”

      “That’s a good question.  So far we haven’t had any problems, but there is always a first time.  They are precise, so as long as you know the structural integrity of whatever you’re taking apart you should be OK.”

      “Great.  You’ll be helping with the first trials then,” Samuel stated, implying that Aaron would be in as much danger as anybody else when the work began.

      “Sure, if it’ll make you feel better.  To be honest, many of us should pitch in a helping hand to get this done quickly.”  He paused, “Can we break ground in four days?”

      “Maybe, if we push ourselves.”

      “Then in four days I want a groundbreaking ceremony.  I’ll give you as much support to get there as possible.”

      “Well, it’s still survey and marking work.  You would honestly just be getting in the way.  Wait until after the groundbreaking; then you can help.”

      “Sounds good,” Aaron replied.

      “So do you have the platinum?”

      “No, I’ll have to see if Jared and Carmen can make it tomorrow when it’s light out.  We still have a few days, so there’s no big rush.  Did you file a copy of the Swiss agreement?”

      “Yes, I put it in a safe deposit box.  We should be all set.”

      “You’re doing a good job Samuel.  I’m glad you’re here.”

      “Thanks, I’m glad we’re here too.

 

****

 

      Meanwhile, Zoe caught up with Michelle.  “I should examine you,” Zoe said.

      “OK, how about tomorrow?”

      Zoe said, “Actually, since you’ve been on that boat for so many days I insist we do this today.”

      Michelle shrugged, “OK, so now?”

      Zoe nodded.

      They headed to one of the empty tents so Zoe could check her condition.  “How is the morning sickness?”

      “Better.  I have been having small meals like you suggested.  I also have been drinking more water.”

      As Zoe talked, she was checking Michelle’s heart rate and blood pressure.  “Good, how about milk and dairy?  How much are you getting?”

      “Umm . . . I drink a glass of milk a day.  I also have yogurt, cheese and ice cream frequently.”

      “I don’t have an ultra-sound machine.  I should talk to Aaron about getting one.  It’ll be useful for more than pregnancies.  Besides the non-invasive tests like the ultrasound will you want me to do prenatal testing?”

      “Why, is there something wrong?”

      Zoe shook her head, “No. It’s standard to check for heart problems, genetic problems, size, sex, and so on.”

      “What would happen if you found a problem?”

      “Well, you would be prepared.  In some cases, women choose to have abortions or give the child up for adoption if it’s not something they can handle.  At the very least, it prepares you to care for any special needs the child might have.”

      Michelle frowned, “Listen, I don’t care if my child comes out with birth defects.  It’s my baby; I’m not having an abortion.”

      Zoe shook her head, “Forget about abortion.  What about preparedness?”

      “No!”

      Zoe said, “OK, it’s your choice to make.  Let me know if you change your mind.”

      “I won’t!”

      “Do you want to know the sex of the baby?”

      Michelle hesitated, “I’m not sure.  I know Jared does.  I guess so.”

      “Well, as soon as we get an ultrasound, or get you to an ultrasound, we will hopefully find out.”

      “Is there anything I should be doing?”

      “Are you taking the prenatal vitamins?”

      “Yes.”

      “Exercising?”

      “Does walking count?”

      “Yes, if it’s fast or long term.  Any light aerobic activity is good.  Some anaerobic activities like weightlifting are good as well.”

      “Also, make sure to keep a healthy diet, also no alcohol at all, and no smoking.”

      “Well, those are easy, I don’t drink or smoke!”

      “You don’t drink . . . ever?”

      Michelle replied, “Nope, never.”

      “Good.  Do you have any questions?”

      “Well . . . yes.”

      “What?”

      “Well . . . how big am I going to get?”

      “Based on your height and weight you’ll gain about a pound a week during the last two trimesters.”

      Michelle bucked, “A pound a week!”

      Zoe said, “About 30 pounds in total, which isn’t that bad.”

      “That’s a lot of weight! I’ll look like a cow.  They’ll mistake me for a cow and scan me so they can have cows in the colony!”

      Zoe exaggerated, “I gained more in all my pregnancies.  You’re lucky!”

      “I don’t feel lucky.  I won’t look lucky either.”

      Zoe did not seem to want to debate Michelle’s complaints.  She started to clean up the tent, and walked to the door.  Michelle took the hint and left with Zoe.

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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