Day 4 started out quietly. The batteries had more charge in them than they did yesterday, which is a good sign that I don’t need to worry about power generation right now. The food situation is good in the short term but little things like “cooking” and “sustainability” will become serious topics pretty quickly, I think. Sin hasn’t shot me yet, so that’s good. On the other hand, he hasn’t done anything useful yet, either, which is increasing he odds that he’ll have the honor of becoming the source of meat for my first barbecue.
I moved more berries into cold storage (three cheers for cold storage, YAY!) and did a bit more exploring. The cave is in the southwest corner of a medium sized field that opens up to the north. That also happens to be the direction that I last saw the bears shuffling off toward so I think I’ll leave the north unexplored for a bit. There is another valley heading off to the southeast from the field and I discovered a vein of compacted machinery there and even managed to mine a bit of it for components. That valley appears to curve around to the southwest, suggesting that the high ground at the south end of the main field might be some sort of mesa that is open all the way around. I’d like that, because it means I couldn’t be cornered in the area that I’ve chosen to set up camp. Of course, that assumes that I can run faster than whatever is chasing me, which is not a good assumption. Maybe some defenses are in order.
The big news of the day occurred while I was hauling more berries back to camp. A man appeared from the south, approaching slowly and with his hands clearly visible. I don’t know if this planet supports any kind of magic (if it does then the whole “I’m not a threat because I’m empty handed” pose would be meaningless) but I decided to take a chance and not shoot him on sight. He stopped at a safe distance but within not-quite-shouting range, slowly showed me a pistol in a latched holster, and started talking. Communication was surprisingly easy; his dialect was very similar to my own. (An indicator of the attention to detail of the travel agency? Possible, but doubtful. I’m still pissed about getting a monkey so I’m not inclined to cut them any slack.) He says his name is “Shank” (not a great sign) and he used to be a sailor on an interstellar cargo ship. Lately he’s been hanging out with a neighboring colony somewhere south of me but he’s looking for a change of scenery and wonders if he can hang out with me for a while, help me get things started, that sort of thing.
This is a tough decision. I know absolutely nothing about the guy except that he’s armed. I have no way of verifying his story. I have no idea what skills he has. I have no idea who I might be pissing off by taking him in. It really comes down to whether I think he’ll contribute more to the colony than he’ll consume and he’s looking at me waiting for an answer. It doesn’t look like he’s interested in a lengthy interview process.
In the end, it’s the pistol that decides it for me. Sooner or later (probably sooner) I’m going to have to start hunting… something. Probably not the turtles I’ve seen around, and certainly not the bears; something in between would be nice. Regardless, two people shooting at the same animal increase the chances that we’ll kill it before it kills us, and I like keeping those odds as high as possible. I accept his offer and get started building him a bed, wondering all the while if I’ve made the right decision.
I finish the bed and head out to do more hauling when I notice Shank and Sin standing facing each other. Shank has some of the berries in his hand and in a matter of minutes as I watch he’s got Sin following him around like a tame puppy. Whatever other skills the guy possesses he’s got a real knack for animal training. I’m looking forward to seeing if he can get “Sin shank steak” off the menu and turn him into something useful.
Four days on the planet and I haven’t been killed yet. There are some bookies back home who won’t like this, but I’m pretty okay with it.