Our heroes reach the San Luis Reservoir, which is more fresh water in one place than Lauren has ever seen before.
The highway runs through a recreational area, giving the group a place to camp. A lot of people are staying here in tents and shacks.
These locals, who are armed, eye Lauren's group as they enter, but nothing bad happens.
Lauren's group sets up camp and rests. She sits alone with Bankole and tests his reaction to Earthseed. She needs to know what he thinks about it, since it's the most important thing in her life.
It turns out that Bankole has no religion of his own. Lauren says that to join an Earthseed community, people need to learn to shape God with work, to educate and benefit their communities, families, and selves, and to contribute to the Destiny—colonizing outer space.
Bankole says that Earthseed sounds too simple—he thinks people would make it more mystical if they were to accept it. And if God is Change, then even Earthseed will change.
Lauren agrees, but she says she aims to shape Earthseed into what it should be. She tells Bankole that when her father disappeared and her community was destroyed it was Earthseed that kept her going.
Lauren asks Bankole if he left home because his wife died. He explains that she died five years ago, attacked by robbers. He didn't leave until a fire burned down his walled community and scavengers arrived. He escaped to San Diego, and he's now heading north looking for a better place to live, where people can pay him for his services.
Lauren realizes that Bankole's a doctor.
Lauren also thinks Bankole has a definite destination in mind, but she doesn't ask about it. She worries he might disappear on her some night, and she especially doesn't want that now that they seem like they're about to have sex—but she also understands that lying about his plans might be necessary for survival.
Bankole kisses Lauren, and they walk hand-in-hand to an isolated spot. They have sex, and Lauren enjoys the good side of her hyperempathy.
Afterward, Bankole asks Lauren how old she is. She answers: eighteen.
Bankole's horrified, but Lauren insists they shouldn't split up because of her age. She's reminded of Curtis, and she tells Bankole about him.
Bankole's surprised that Lauren planned to walk north even before her community was destroyed. He also notes the two of them share the bond of having lost everyone.
Tuesday, August 31, 2027
The group rests on this day.
Lauren spends her time talking, writing, reading, and having sex with Bankole. She gives a reading and writing lesson to Zahra, Jill, and Allie, and then the group discusses Earthseed.
By nightfall, there's a gun battle in the distance.
Lauren feels it's strange that they're resting peacefully among the trees, while not far away, there's violence.