Personal Survival...or Galactic Survival?

Chapter 1: Josh’s Homecoming

Josh Harris was sitting in his room having a drink and looking at the Gal Net links like any other day. He was on board the Maidens Pride, a new Solar Transport that was taking him home after 16 months traveling the Fringe Worlds looking for resources that his Corporation might need.

He had scanned hundreds of asteroids, and dozens of moons and uninhabited planets, but now his trip was soon going to be over, and he sat back thinking of all the places he had seen and been to. His records had already been sent back, and his Boss was pleased with what he found. It was more than enough to keep the Galactic Mining Guild going for another decade, even counting the drone miners and their insatiable appetites.

Since the advent of Intelligent computers and drones using them, ships could be made in a month, and weapons and other hardware in hours easily. The Generic Printer on the wall in each room was everything anyone would need... food, equipment and water or juices at your fingertips, and ready to ingest in a matter of minutes. But thats the way it is in 3210, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

He was just settling down for a nice nap when the ship rocked violently, and his eyes popped open to hear alarms and the computer screaming for everyone to get to the escape pods. The ship was under attack and he swore and grabbed his bag with his scanners and computer in it and ran out into the hall, to be grabbed roughly and thrown into a pod not much bigger than he was, and a second he tumbled out into space, and after a second to gather his bearings he managed to turn the power on and send a distress signal out ...but no one answered... at least not right away.

“This is Josh Harris calling for all help within the range of my voice, we have been attacked and passengers are out in life pods drifting. Send help immediately...” he called but only static answered and he knew they were only a few days from the Core systems and only a few million miles from planets, since he saw them out his cabin window just an hour ago. But at near light speed they had traveled a long ways since then, and he didn’t know why no one was answering..or if anyone could.

He sat back and waited for that answer, and finally the computer jumped in saying they were approaching a planet, and Josh saw the readings from the scanners, it was a temperate world, 18% oxygen, fresh water, and plants everywhere...not home... but better than nothing.

“Can we land?” he asked as she seemed to think that funny and said ‘it depends on what ‘landing’ means to you.’ and he smiled, obviously this was one of the newer pods, with a fully sentient computer.

“Anything I can walk away from.” He added as she agreed they could. He checked the place as they approached and after a minute he chose a spot near a lake and with some trees around it. “There...stop right there.” he said as she reminded him to tighten his belts and make sure he had a helmet on too, and after doing everything she ask he sat back with his eyes closed, not knowing if they would live or die today.

The touchdown made him think this was less of a landing and more of a crash, but he gritted his teeth as the pod bounced and rolled for a minute then came to a sudden stop as it slammed into something sizeable enough to stop it. He sat back and the computer said the hatch was unlocked, and he turned from his seat and pushed against it and blue skies and white clouds greeted him, and since he was up and walking, that was all he had expected.

“We made it in one piece...” Josh hinted, as the computer said that she wasn’t so sure of that. Once she was down like this she was basically worthless, unless she had another body to be set into later on.”you have a constructor built in right? I’ll definitely have need of that. We should start by making fresh water, or some machine that can purify natural water to drink.” he added as she said she could....with the right materials...make almost anything in due time, and he agreed and they seemed to have a deal.

“Emergency equipment in the closet behind you.” She said and a little light flashed and Josh opened the closet to see some nutri bars, a odd looking rifle, and a small box of pills marked for infection.

“That is a Model 22 Particle Transport, computer survival tool.” She said as he just laughed.

“Looks like a little gun of some kind.” He mentioned as she agreed that it could be, if set up correctly.

“It can be used for mining small surface ores, or hunting small animals. I wouldn’t suggest attacking anything bigger than you with it though.” She mentioned as he agreed.” Short range, less than 30 meters, can break up rocks into their constituent parts and do a little refining as well. bringing those refined ores back to me, and then we can make something better for you next time.” She mentioned as he nodded looking it over carefully.

“I can recharge it a few times off my batteries...if we get good sunlight on this spot... we’ll see.” She added and he stepped outside to see a large field with weeds and bushes of many types, and he reached into his bag and pulled out a scanner and set it to find eatable plants, and started looking for supplies while it was still daylight.

Chapter 2: Survival of the Fittest...Tech wise that is

Josh walked a good distance, found a rock that was reddish and the scanner read iron ore... and he sprayed that with the beam on his gun and bits and pieces of ore popped and snapped and the computer called saying she was getting it all, and he was doing pretty well for the first day.

“I made a list of the plants surrounding us here, gather anything marked with a check.” She added and he looked and saw maybe 6 things she had checked and when he tapped on the checkmark a picture came up showing it, helpful for sure.

“I cant eat dead plants and sticks,” Josh said seeing one and she reminded him it was her job to know these things and Fiber was needed more than he would ever know.

“Any type of cloth can be made from this one, even bandages, and we both know eventually you’ll need those.” She added as he just nodded sadly and went back to looking for more to gather.

The little tool was a wonder, it had several settings... one for rock, one for defense, and one for gathering, and a swipe of the wide beam against a plant and it was gone in a second, and back at camp when he got there.

“Here...” The computer said as a small door opened and out slid 4 newly made nutri bars and he stuck those in his pocket. “keep gathering like this and you’ll have a surplus soon enough. I can keep these in storage for weeks if need be.” She hinted as he agreed and sat down and ate one...and it wasn’t bad.

“Here’s a small water refiner...” She added as a bottle like thing came rolling out next.” Just dip it into the lake nearby and shake well, there’s enough purifier inside to make this much safe easily.” She went on and he took that and snapped the hanger on it over his pants top and took his snack and walked to the lake and got the bottle filled. “Hmm there’s almost nothing in this water that can hurt you anyways.” She said as she saw the results.

“And thats a good thing.” he remarked and took a nice big drink and started back towards camp.

“Since we don’t know anything about night life here, better plan on sleeping inside tonight.” She mentioned and he totally agreed with that, and a few hours work later, he closed the door gently and sat back in his chair and got a few hours rest, while sometime during the night something made a loud scream nearby that jerked him awake, and he made sure the door was latched this time, as night sounds went on all around him until dawn.

By sun up things got quiet again, and after a quick search, blood and bones were found not 200 yards away, and some interesting looking footprints that Josh scanned and the computer analyzed them.

“A large carnivore...perhaps reptilian... and weighing around 500 pounds.” She said and Josh admitted that he didn’t want to meet one of those right now, and she agreed. “I think some specialized mining is in order, find the items on the list.” She said and Josh started looking for more iron, and copper and after walking for what seemed miles, he had a good supply of each and she called him back.

When he got there there was a small table next to the capsule and a drone the size of a large bee flying back and forth, and as it did parts got made and then put together, and 30 minutes after Josh got back he had a gun, a real one this time.

“This workbench is new...” Josh hinted and so she took the time to tell him that in an emergency she could create drones capable of working outside the capsule, and since she had minimal room for storage this helped a lot.

“If I had some Silicon I could make more of those and make bigger things faster.” She hinted and Josh saw another trip in his future. “Go to the lake and look for soft, smooth looking sand along its edge and scan for it.” She insisted and away he went and after a little more walking he scanned a tiny ‘beach’ not more than 6 feet long and she was impressed and happy.

“Get a good scan and then send some back to me.” She added and he did, and after a few minutes checking the quality she demanded all she could get, and he spent an hour slowly sending back sand until she stopped him.

“This is high quality stuff, there must be a silicon vein upstream from there, something to check on later.” She said and he walked back to the capsule and now there were two tiny drones working, and she pointed him to a gun sitting beside the workbench, and a pile of 12 bullets to go with it.

“High powered shotgun, short range but very deadly.” She mentioned and he agreed and swung it around checking out the feel of it, and she left him know that with more copper more bullets could be made. “ And more a little while I’ll come up with a better way to get some but for now, you know what to do.” She added and he went walking and found some more little bushes or big plants that had seen better days, and she called him back before dark, and he sat inside drinking some tea from a plant he found and it wasnt bad either, and he sat back and fell asleep while dreaming of hot meals and big smiles at the many restaurants he had been to over his 25 years.