Just as Dome 27 shouldn't have been any colder, neither should Dome 28. Totally unoccupied until such date as the Beetleburns might return from The Haven, Dome 28, Beetleburn Dome, was kept meticulously climate controlled. There were teams, robot and human, who kept it neat and straight. There was no prohibition upon coming here, but there was no reason to, either. The straight functional dormitories on each level, around a central square. The occasional hum in the distance of some electrical system coming online. The dull red lights that sprang into an only slightly fuller orange when you walked through. Perhaps, sometimes, the voices of maintenance people somewhere up in the rafters, up in the grid.
We had perfect skin, an even light olive skin that stayed smooth for hundreds of years. But even this perfect skin came off, peeling off of us as it had for hundreds of thousands of years. Our own domes were full of things that came off of our perfect bodies, the remains of the food items, even whatever microscopic flakes of rust came off of Titanium Steel. And Icechalk was called that for a reason: it was a planet made of talc and when people came in through an airlock, they could have some in little ice flakes that would melt off, leaving a fine chalk dust. The smells of these things were in the background too. But Beetleburn dome just sat there, empty, no hum or sounds, no smells or textures, just an empty dome. If the Beetleburns ever came back, they would come here, and live here briefly before they returned to the Milky Way, as was their plan. There messages still came in, every ten years, little metal balls filled with the news that everything at The Haven was as it was, and that they were still mining, still building.
Theophyllis didn't know why he had come to this strange, silent place today. Perhaps to seek inspiration. Since the time of the shut off, the Beetleburns had announced they had only one intention: of returning to The Milky Way, to return to the Magellanic Clouds, and to find out what had happened. How could they, though, when even the short journey from The Haven to Icechalk was one of our lifetimes, and several of theirs? But we had been sitting here for most of 10,000 years, shuffling paper and signals through tubes, hoping for some type of resolution. As a historian, Theophyllis knew history didn't move through mysterious resolutions, but there was no imagination or ability to do anything. And so he had come to the Beetleburn dome to see the barracks lined up at right angles, and to imagine the mindset that would try to sole an impossible problem for ten aeons. And he didn't know how long he had been walking in those silent, featureless streets, past rows of barracks, when he heard a guitar play a familiar scale. A very familiar scale.
You've Always Had a Hidden Agenda, but people were busy with other things <--The Dustlessness of Beetleburn Dome -->