She sat up and surveyed the area. She found herself perched near the top of a long, sloping rise. The layer of greenery around her dissipated into a rim of dirt that crowned the ridge just above her. Janice clambered onto her hands and knees and struggled up the rise.
It veered skyward and turned to barren clods of dirt in her grasp. In another moment, Janice grasped the rocky apex above her and pulled herself up onto the narrow ridgeline. Then, looking out at the valley sweeping below her, her eyes grew large with wonder as a gentle sigh of amazement escaped her lips.
“A meteor crater…”
Janice recalled her facepiece lessons on the famous Asteroid of 2160. She shuddered now, seeing for herself the damage it had caused eighty-one years ago. The World Alliance had managed to slow its descent enough to cause the space rock to fragment under the pressure. The bulk of the asteroid fused with Earth’s crust and later become the Island of Artemisia. But small fragmentations ricocheted and scarred the planet’s surface with craters.
One such crater, two miles wide, was discovered in the unpopulated, north-Texan territory. Rich minerals had embedded themselves in the soil, left in the Asteroid’s wake. So the System chose a community of lower-middle Allowance-Level citizens to work in the crater, to exploit the soil’s mineral content for commercial gain.
“They called it Delphey,” Janice recalled, and she sat tall with interest.
“This is the Delphey Meteor Crater!”
She allowed the breeze to sweep across her sweaty face and tousle her wavy brown locks. Looking into the crater, she saw an interlocking system of colored squares below her. Organized fields of sprouting greens, ripening vineyards, and flowering orchards checkered the crater floor. Herds of horses, cows, and other animals such as sheep and chickens milled about within some of the fenced borders. Scattered between these defined blocks of farmland, houses and barns sat with old-world charm. All in all, homey splashes of color and richness draped the entire inner bowl of the crater.
The sight warmed Janice’s heart and filled her with delight.
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