Room assignments came next. Couples were housed on the first three floors, singles paired up and were on floors four through eight.
"Take a key and move on," the attendant here said. "One key per person."
Before leaving the building, they received directions to their building and then put their stasuits. These were checked and rechecked at the door. Corrections were made as needed, none too politely.
"We start Monday, Tilda," Bobby sounded apprehensive.
"Bobby, I hate this place," Matilda shuddered, clinging to his arm.
"So do I, honey. It will be all right, we won't be here all that long."
They found their room without any difficulty. James and his girlfriend, Stella, were next door. After unpacking their scant belongings in the cheerless, tile and metal room, they went to the cafeteria in the basement. Each dorm had its own to minimize exposure to the outdoors. The food wasn't too bad, at least it wasn't gray.
* * *
Monday dawned and the only difference was that the sky was a lighter shade of gray than it was at night. Darkness took on a lurid cast in the light of the orange gas lights scattered about.
Decked out in their gear, the four of them approached the mine with trepidation. They had been assigned to a team with six other people. After three weeks of training, Matilda would be taking over. She was terrified.
"I don't really see why you get to be in charge," Jane complained for the hundredth time. "I scored higher than you on the aptitude test."
"Only two points," Stella quipped, liking Jane's discomfort.
"Because," James was only too happy to be the one explaining this time, "she out ranked you on Saltulle. Foreman DuLac, remember?"
Jane stalked away in a huff. James and Stella laughed after her.
"She can have the job as far as I'm concerned," Matilda commented. "Do you know how many rules and safety regulations I have to memorize in the next three weeks?"
"You can do it, Tilda. I'll help you," Bobby told her, squeezing her fingers.
"Thanks! I can use all the help I can get!"
Their shift went quietly and they learned more about Chaxite than they ever hoped to. Getting home that evening, after dinner and a hot shower, Matilda sat down with her regulations. Bobby came in and sat across from her, gazing at her intently.
"What?" She felt flustered and confused by his look.
"We need to decide something, Tilda. When do we want to get married? There is an actual minister here, we could have a church wedding."
"I really can't think about it until training is over."
"What will be the next excuse, Matilda? We could have married on the ship, but you didn't want to. Do you even want to marry me?" His eyes filled with angry tears which he blinked away.
She took his hand in hers. "Yes, Bobby, I do want to marry you. I love you. But I want to be able to enjoy our wedding and our time together afterwards and until I get through this training, I just can't. We can get married right after as a celebration, okay?"
He smiled weakly. "Alright, I guess I can wait. I'm holding you to this, Matilda DuLac." He reached for her rule book. "Here, let me have that, I'll quiz you."
"I do love you, Bobby." They spent the next three hours studying the rules until both of them knew them by heart.