“We can sell this,” said Maruk.
“It looks like MC Escher had a bowel movement.”
Maruk laughed, but it was hollow, like he was a robot doing an impression of laughter. “You wouldn’t live here?” he asked.
Rola shot him an angry glance that he couldn’t see through the faceplate. It wasn’t explicit, but the comment had been a dig. Rola was a third generation spacer; life on a planet with this much gravity would be impossible for her. The compensators in the suit she used on the scouting missions belonged to the company. She would never be able to afford one on her own.
“It’s a desert,” Rola said.
“How can you say that? It’s literally an ocean!”
They hadn’t found even a scrap of land yet, though the probes and skimmers were still mapping. The whole planet appeared as if it had flash frozen at the height of a typhoon. Of course, the mountains and canyons and cracked plains of water ice were formed slowly under the same geological forces that shaped all worlds. In the pale milky light, the frozen rows of tsunamis looked like they could be made of earth after all.
Maruk stepped forward, his boots crunching on ice pebbles underfoot. “A launchpad here, with a facility to pump up warm ocean water.” He held his arms out and made a frame with his thumbs and fingers. “Hydrothermal power station there, with a hydrolysis reactor back this way.” He spun around 180 degrees and walked backwards, still looking through his hands. “That natural overhang would be the roof of the civic center and dormitory. You could put the biodomes on top. Don’t you see it?”
Rola looked down at the ice beneath her feet. She saw a cloudy reflection of the stars above. Everything was dead, sterile. “As above, so below,” she mumbled.
“We’ll never find another Earth. What are we wasting our time here for?”
Notes: I used two images as a writing prompt for this piece. I found them on page 130 of my copy of The Art of Mass Effect: Andromeda.