Víöle Leiraval-ith-Lindría loved her job as a first-in prospector. Not just from having grown up in the crowded hives of Kythera, although, as she admitted to herself, that may have had something to do with it. But quite apart from the chance to be alone with her own thoughts, she loved the variety of the planets she visited, and being the first one to see it. The clear view of the stars without industry and its junklight, or the ever-changing patterns of the primary’s weather. Skies of a thousand different shades from deep maroon to pale yellows and blues; the twinned shadows of a binary sunrise, or the firelight illumination of dwarf suns. And the rocks, of course. “Regolith is regolith”, the saying may go, but a thousand different suns with as many different planetary nebulae created a wondrous variety of stone to be baked under different suns, corroded by different airs, eroded by different winds, even before you count those cold worlds where water and even oxygen become minerals in their own right…
The silence, though, was a problem.
Not the physical silence – though few of the worlds she visited were garden worlds, no planet with an atmosphere is ever truly silent. Wind, and sand, and distant tectonic rumbles, all were heard with preternatural clarity in the absence of life’s babble, the planets’ constant song.
It was the network silence. She didn’t miss the communication itself, or the library, or any other higher network function – which was fortunate, since reaching an extranet relay from her worlds on the fringes would have taken more equipment than she preferred to carry, or indeed than her counterparties would have paid to cover – but just the comforting sense of its presence. That the world, to this one of her senses, was still there.
These days, Víöle carries a mesh router with her everywhere, and the silence is filled by its contented status murmur.