The intense blue colour of the sky impressed Roland, who was used to ochre and reddish firmaments. "It's strange to get a world that, before it's terraformed, has a sky so blue," he thought. The levels of nitrogen and carbon dioxide were compatible with those of a breathable atmosphere, but there was still one element missing for this one, oxygen.
-It will take a lot of hydrolysis, to generate enough oxygen, - he said aloud, to himself, as he looked at the wall of glacial ice forming the coast of the continent -. Fortunately there will be no shortage of water.
"All the engineers will talk to themselves or it will just be me," he thought as he continued his tour of the mainland coast. The small ship flew along the edge of the glacier, until it reached a region where the rocks were bare. It ascended to fly over the area and saw a plain covered with clayey soil.
After descending, he put on heavy boots, took a breathing mask, adjusted the oxygen levels and the temperature from the controls of his suit and left the ship to feel the environment by himself. Most of the environmental engineers had only to go through the candidate planets in their ships, to recognize the surface and take samples, but he liked to feel the floor and if possible to perceive in his face, the breeze and the rain of the planets.
-This world will be easy for a LUCY, there will be no major problem - he spoke again only -. It's a matter of introducing photosynthetic bacteria or if you want the process to be faster, use the hydrolysis reactors, to speed up the production of oxygen, and then start gradually introducing the necessary forms of life, - he paused, realizing that he was talking to himself -. If the division psychiatrist saw me he would send me to rest for a time.
He bent down, kneeling on the ground, the clay layer was dry and cracked, the yellow sun of that world shone brightly warming his back. Before he went out he thought it would be cold, but actually it was a pleasant two hundred and eighty eight Kelvins, he found it fascinating, as so close by there was a gigantic glacier, and yet here, a little less than five kilometres from it, the temperature was so pleasant.
He laid one of his gloved hands on the floor and with his fingers scratched a bit of clay, and sprayed it with his fingers, then he thought for a moment and removed a glove and repeated the operation with his bare hand.
The earth seemed pleasantly fluffy and cold to him, even though it was so dry. "It rained a few days ago," he thought, as he got up and shook the earth off his hands and knee.
-Yes, this is going to be a great acquisition, it's going to be a nice world, -he said-. What a damned loneliness, if it wasn't for moments like this, this job would be awful.
He returned to the ship, he had already travelled a good part of the planet, in his twenty days there he had known its four continents, imagining them with their bare plains covered with grass and bushes, their mountains and valleys covered with thick forests, and the bottom of their seas populated by corals and seaweed everywhere. A world where life would proliferate and humans would thrive.
He activated the quantum communication panel, by which he could send small information packages that, through a quantum link, were instantly received at the headquarters of the environmental engineers unit.
He only completed a short form with the corresponding recommendations and then opened the database of names, which collected all the catalogued names, to be used on the worlds that would be inhabited.
-You don't deserve to be called PET-155 anymore, - he said, as he looked through the list with his eyes - I like this one ...- he selected one of the names from the projection and dragged it to the form he had just completed, and then sent it to the environmental engineering division -. It's done, soon the terraforming ship will arrive and a LUCY will take care of you, - he said in a friendly tone.
He returned to the cabin of the small ship and had it raised, within minutes it was out of the atmosphere of the planet and further and further away from its gravitational influence. He looked back and saw how he was moving away from that beautiful blue world.
-See you later, Dione, I'll be back in a hundred years or so to see how your progress is going, - he said in a nostalgic tone as he moved away from that, his best acquisition to date-. This is a lonely job.