Random And Wildly Beautiful Patterns (Isak)
The Quick machines had extensively gardened the worldlet too, planting vacuum organisms in seemingly random and wildly beautiful patterns utterly unlike the square fields of my foster-family’s farm. Huge tangles of ropes, crustose pavements, clusters of tall spires, fluted columns and smooth domes, forests of wire. Mostly in shades of black but enlivened here and there with splashes and flecks of vivid reds or yellows, sprawled across crater floors, climbing walls and spilling their rims, spreading across intercrater plains, sending pseudohyphae into the icy regolith to mine carbonaceous tars, growing slowly but steadily in the faint light of Fomalhaut and Maui’s two swift-moving mini-suns.
Once, when the Quick had been the sole inhabitants of the Fomalhaut system, these gardens had covered the entire surface of the worldlet, inhabited by only a few contemplative eremites. Now, they were scarred by tents built to house refugees, the monolithic cubes of fusion generators, landing stages, materiel dumps, missile emplacements, strip mines, refineries, and maker blocks. My transit pod was flying above a region scraped down to clean bright water ice when my security delivered a message. Report to the Redactor Svern when you are finished.
From In The Mouth Of The Whale