I called a coffee break and began sitting up a place to sit. Nat and Kiara helped me to set up the folding stools and table. We dumped everything else but the stuff we needed whilst Damex set and started up the instant campfire.
Ode hadn’t stopped with us but carried on walking through the rocky clearing we had just entered. She seemed lost in her own world, the amazement of being on Earth not worn off for her yet.
Around us the forest was loud with sounds we weren’t use to. There was the calling of different wild birds and animals which roamed around without the need for programming. The wind was real in the trees and not from fans, the sun also real and pleasantly mild on our sensitive skin and the air wasn’t recycled or filtered but fresh and earthy.
It had all taken some getting use to and we still hadn’t adjusted fully even after the four months we had now been here for. Earth had been abandoned a few hundred years ago, humans had found other planets to spawn on and it had been decreed Earth needed time to regenerate and was to be left alone.
That was until the reason we had come here. A small time-space rift had been detective somewhere in this location and we were the team that went around fixing those holes.
‘Fire’s up, Ash,’ Damex announced.
I popped the folding coffee pot out, but in some water formula and coffee grains then set it on the stand above the fake flames.
Kiara appeared at my side and put some cheese toast pockets next to the pot. They only took a few minutes to cook and made good hot snacks.
‘I’ll get Ode,’ Nat spoke and walked over to her.
I sat down in one of the chairs and looked around. It was impossible to grow bored of the Earth’s sites but I found being in the places with buildings much more interested then the wilds.
Damex sat down on a rock and began rubbing his hands along the surface. The moss catching in his fingers and the dirt getting under his nails. It was always hard to tell with the android but he seemed to be enjoying the sensation.
Kiara looked as bored as I was feeling. She took the chair next to me and began messing around with the hand held computer. No doubt, emailing her husband and children then she would play some games and let her frustrations out on those instead of us. Kiara wasn’t one for these long, complicated trips.
I turned my attention to Nat and Ode, ‘the Lil’ scientific genius’. They were stood on the other side of the clearing, a few feet or so away, next to a mass of rocks. They were looking at a large rock piece that appeared to have a huge, gaping split down it, like a giant had tried to cut the rock in half but had given up before the job was done.
Ode, her white hair tossed in the breeze seemed excited about something and was holding a scanner around over the rock.
Nat laughed, tried to calm her down and pointed back to us. Ode shook her head, determined to stay and it took a few minutes for Nat to convince her to leave whatever it was and come back to the group.
The coffee pot whistled, I took it off and poured it into the four mugs lined up on the table. I set the pot off to one side and grabbed the snacks which Kiara had forgotten about and opened one to let it cool slightly before I ate it.
‘Ash! Ash!’ Ode shout as she ran over.
‘Yeah, Ode, I’m not going to eat all the cheese toast,’ I answered.
‘No….I mean, it’s not that,’ she said coming to a skidding halt, ‘I think I’ve found the rift!’
‘That rock over there?’
Ode nodded, a huge smile on her flushed faced, ‘sensors indicate it could be! Can I please close it? You know it’s the first one I’ve ever found! Expect for the training and exam ones, but those don’t really count. Please, Ash can I do it?’
‘Calm down,’ I responded with a shake of my head but I couldn’t help smiling. Ode was infectious when she got like this, ‘have something to eat and drink first. You’ll need the energy.’
‘No, buts,’ Nat said playfully, ‘Ash is right, you need to be at your top if you are going to close it. Sit down, here’s a mug.’
With a loud groan, Ode did as she was told and began sipping the coffee.
Nat took the other chair next to her and began nibbling on the cheese toast.
Damex looked up, coming back from wherever his android mind had been and announced, ‘I shall go and complete the scans and confirm it whilst you rest.’
‘But I want to do everything!’ Ode cried like a over-excited child on her birthday.
‘And you shall,’ I cut in, ‘but a second opinion and results is always needed.’ I turned to Damex, ‘please go and do that. We’ll join you soon.’
Damex nodded, collected what he needed and walked over to the huge rock piles. We watched him began the scanning and data collecting. Androids were so useful for those kinds of tasks.
Ode, impatient had downed her coffee, swallowed the cheese toast in a few bites and hurried back to the possible rift. Nat and I took our time, drinking and eating the snacks in silence.
After, as I thought about putting another coffee pot on, Kiara finally stopped being distracted and spoke to us in the first time in about two hours, ‘can I tell my family we might be on our way back then?’ she asked.
‘Better leave it till tomorrow,’ I said, ‘we need to see what Damex and Ode find, then confirm it’s the right rift and then that there are no more around.’
‘Right,’ Kiara snarled.
She shoved the computer into her bag then sat with her arms crossed looking super enraged.
‘I’m sorry. I know we all want to go home. Let’s try and speed things up. You and Nat pack up here. I’ll go and see what those two have found.’
I stood up, leaving them to sort things out and made my way over. I would be sad to leave Earth but this was just another job to be done.
(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/03/21/thursday-photo-prompt-rift-writephoto/ with thanks).